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According to that ever reliable bastion of truth and knowledge Wikipedia, whipping boys were first established in the 17th Century in England. The term derives from a position held by a close confidante of the King`s eldest son. The idea emanated from the philosophy of the Divine Right of Kings. Since Kings were apparently chosen by God, it went that nobody was fit to punish the King`s son except for the King himself. But obviously the monarch was often too busy chopping off heads and eating boar and goose sandwiches to discipline his next of kin. Teachers and carers were not worthy of bestowing punishment upon the young Prince, so they appointed a 'whipping boy` to act as an avatar of punishment and scathing for his Princely friend.

Though the Royal Family still hangs around like a bad smell in England, the whipping boy tag only applies in a metaphorical context. (Rumour has it that they`ve had trouble filling the position in a literal context since Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi). In the Arsenal lexicon, the term "whipping boy" has come to mean "player what we don`t like much and fink should be sold." A number of current squad players have had this visage thrust upon them. Alex Song was given a generous 45 minutes in an Arsenal shirt before the Red Section (you know, the ones that tell you how they think you should support the club?) cried "Off with his head" from the gallery at Craven Cottage. Philippe Senderos is apparently the only defender in Christendom that has ever had a hard time with Didier Drogba. Denilson has bore the brunt of the crowd on his back to the point that he is suffering a terminally gammy vertebra. Apparently, in a paltry 28 appearances stretching over 2 years, Mikel Silvestre managed to sleep with the significant other of every match going Gooner. Emmanuel Eboue was condemned to the guillotine until we worked out, that, err, he`s not actually that bad. (Of course, those guilty of humiliating him so publicly are the very ones that now "ironically" fete him as a cult hero and wear hilarious tee shirts in his honour. Guilt can do funny things to people). Nicklas Bendtner likewise was dissed and dismissed by the masses- largely on the basis that he wore pink boots and had a rubbish haircut. That was until the end of last season when, ooh looky here, he`s playing regularly and, what d`ya know? He`s scoring an absolute fecking truckload of goals! Well bless my effeminate boots!

The last 18 months has seen Manuel Almunia`s bleached blond barbigerous features in the stocks. To the quite unbecoming point that nobody gave a rat`s arse about the fact that his early season loss of form last year might just have been due to a quite tragic family bereavement. Yet those super uber fans at Red Action organised a "show of support day (?!)" for Cesc because his Granddad was ill last October. Who knew compassion was commensurate with quality? Now Arsenal have failed to sign the desperately average Mark Schwarzer (who Arsenal fans had mystifyingly convinced themselves was the answer due to the fact that, errr, his name ain`t Almunia.....or Fabianski) we can expected the extended disco version of "worst goalie ever" from N5. Every goal conceded will be his fault, of this there is no doubt. Every save and cross claimed will be quietly forgotten as eyes drop to the floor and feet shuffle, but the next time someone pounds the ball into the top corner from eight yards, the guillotine will be prepared as the blood thirsty masses rush forward to dip their hankies on the blood that is shed.

But who will join Manuel in the stocks this season? The new boys usually get a season or so of "youngest child" treatment whilst the cellophane has only just been taken off and they`ve still got that lovely new smell. There was potential for a while for Sagna and his crossing to begin to test some tempers until, well until we started scoring quite regularly as a result of his raids down the right. Fabregas will be psycho analysed, as every misplaced pass or shanked shot points towards Catalonia; but he still won`t quite reach pariah status. Andrey Arshavin has always been a bit of an idle wayward genius, but people are apparently only making this observation now that Hasbro have released a new line of G.I. Joes to burgle our miniscule attention spans, but there will always be just enough moments of genius to keep us swooning. My money on the next prime candidate would be Abou Diaby. Capable of the sublime and the ridiculous- usually in the same passage of play- Diaby could be a couple of shinned passes away from becoming the doyen of the Gooner voodoo dolls. A certain level of resentment does seem to be bubbling under the surface, but having just walloped the ball out of play under no pressure and caused a clenching of teeth; Abou spoils our fun minutes later by beating three players in one movement before rapping us a verse of "We Ain`t Goin` Like That," causing us to sheepishly return our sharpened knives to our jean pockets. But a bad run of form for Diaby could see him cast asunder.

Carlos Vela might well be an outside bet after a pretty ordinary season last year, anymore indifference from the mercurial young Mexican could see him on the receiving end of some acid tongues. Gael Clichy has been a feature of the toy box for some time and his plasticy sheen has been weathered with supporters; with the newer and shiner Kieran Gibbs competing for a space at the summit of the toy chest, expect Clichy`s every solid performance to be held up as bona fide evidence that Gibbs should be subject to our whims. One thing is for sure, whilst Manuel will be the undisputed whipping boy in chief, we Arsenal fans need a deputy to bear the cross of the entire team`s ills. We need someone to blame for global warming, the economic downturn and to bear our frustration when one of the golden boys messes up. (I.e. the next time Vermaelen once again gets too tight to Drogba and gets massacred by the Ivorian who scored four goals against Arsenal last year under the Verminator`s watchful eye). Who`s your money on?LD.




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

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Tuesday August 31 2010
Time: 8:41PM

Comments

0
I half expect Vermaelen to get crucified by the end of the season. A lot of supporters completely ignored his shortcomings (every player has them) last season because he was a fresh face. Last season we could pin the blame for goals on Gallas but now we have Kos with TV. So my prediction is TV will be this season's Gallas and Kos will be last season's TV.
smithdj74
31/08/2010 20:55:00
0
It will still be our keepers, no doubt about it. The Liverpool match proved that to me. Despite being beat by an absolute rocket into the top corner, Almunia was at fault for the goal. By my recollection, it was a typically (for that match) lazy pass by arshavin inside our own box that was the cause. Also, Wilshere could be to blame as well for not being prepared for the pass, allowing Mascherano to collect it instead.
TPowell
31/08/2010 20:58:00
0
What an absolutely **** class post. About time we (gooners) showed some class and got behind our boys. (BTW, I was at the Wigan game, when Eboue was booed - the booing was not coming from the Red Action section of the ground (My Season ticket is in Orange Quadrant Lower))
wembley79
31/08/2010 21:00:00
0
Also, your point about Fabregas is one that I mentioned in the forums about a month or so. I'm looking forward to seeing the media headlines of how Cesc is so clearly thinking about Barcelona when the logical explanation will be that he's just hit a bad patch of form.
TPowell
31/08/2010 21:00:00
0
*a month ago
TPowell
31/08/2010 21:01:00
0
Most gooners will get behind the team - the transfer window just closed and people are still reacting, give us time to bitch and rant and whinge. The overwhelming feeling among gooners was that we needed to do something about the keeper position. And as for Cesc...the player who asked to leave for Barca, who all summer long we've tried to keep from Barca, about whom we had to endure media hype and taunts from pundits, Barca players, spuds and the like about how much our captain wanted to leave us...and who just won the fkg world cup, ffs! A wc and Euros winner...and his manager fails to go all out in a determined effort to strengthen in our weakest position, a very key position, one that no trophy winning teams can do without strengthening. (Never mind the weakness in the DM position). So just exactly why should Cesc have stayed? On another point: we've made good money selling and loaning out players this summer (plus money from Reyes' sell-on fee with him winning the Europa league). We've lost 9 players, we haven't added, we've just replaced. I'm not criticizing AW for letting Gallas, Silvestre & Campbell go but we did lose something very important with the loss of all 3: each one of them (yes, incl. Gallas) regularly talked to and advised/taught the younger players. Gallas apparently even took them to some events. Our young players grew up watching all 3 winning trophies. None of them know Koscielny or Squilacci. But that's not something AW could do much about.
jaelle
31/08/2010 21:18:00
0
I totally agree with most of what you've said here. I have mentioned before that I have (many a time) been in arguements with so called Gooners for booing their own. I still feel we should've signed a better Goalkeeper (and when I say better I don't mean Schwarzer). I know that isn't really your point LD, but it's still frustrating!
navydave
31/08/2010 21:18:00
0
"We haven't added, we've just replaced." I think with the 25 player squad rule, there wasn't much else we could do. The question is have we replaced with players better than those that have gone? Time will tell, it strikes me May is the time for that sort of post mortem, not September. I happen to think sorting the defensive aspect of the whole team was more important than just replacing the keeper, it's important we don;t expose the keepers as much as we did last year. Has that happened? Nobody knows yet, so why not wait until the end of the season before naval gazing? I get the impression people want things to go wrong, just so that they can say they were right. Arseniger admits on another thread that he wants to see Almunia concede 3 against Bolton just so his criticism can be justified a little longer. I think that's the mentality inhabiting most Arsenal fans right now.
Little Dutch
31/08/2010 21:26:00
0
"Who`s your money on?" -- how about the manager himself? / Having just re-read this snarky article, to repeat, the transfer window JUST CLOSED and people are still reacting having hoped and believed all summer long that the manager would strengthen in our most vulnerable position! I really have to question an article attacking the fans for hoping and believing that this would happen after they've just been disappointed and are still absorbing the news. It is PERFECTLY reasonable for gooners everywhere to have hoped for--actually, ASSUMED--that our goalkeeping problem would be resolved. A responsible manager who wanted to keep his world class captain and who wanted to address the most obvious problems we had last season would've addressed the problem with a SERIOUS effort and a willingness to spend money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that desire or that assumption--and absolutely nothing to apologize for. It beggars belief that a club of our class has not addressed this seriously. It's a joke and a shambles. It has nothing whatsoever to do with trashing Almunia and not backing him -- it has to do with an intelligent, informed, accurate awareness that he's a good keeper, not a trophy-winning one -- END OF.
jaelle
31/08/2010 21:31:00
0
"Who`s your money on?" -- how about the manager himself? / Having just re-read this snarky article, to repeat, the transfer window JUST CLOSED and people are still reacting having hoped and believed all summer long that the manager would strengthen in our most vulnerable position! I really have to question an article attacking the fans for hoping and believing that this would happen after they've just been disappointed and are still absorbing the news. It is PERFECTLY reasonable for gooners everywhere to have hoped for--actually, ASSUMED--that our goalkeeping problem would be resolved. A responsible manager who wanted to keep his world class captain and who wanted to address the most obvious problems we had last season would've addressed the problem with a SERIOUS effort and a willingness to spend money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that desire or that assumption--and absolutely nothing to apologize for. It beggars belief that a club of our class has not addressed this seriously. It's a joke and a shambles. It has nothing whatsoever to do with trashing Almunia and not backing him -- it has to do with an intelligent, informed, accurate awareness that he's a good keeper, not a trophy-winning one -- END OF.
jaelle
31/08/2010 21:31:00
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