Captain, My Captain

July 23, 2010

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since Julian Kersh or myself have posted – simply put, we’ve been busy. Countless matches of Arsenal v. Liverpool, selecting MLS sides to support and figuring out the best way to frame Stevie G. and Cesc jerseys. Yes, in a purely tax motivated and business decision for TOTAL FOOTBALL – we’ve grabbed an apartment on the edge of Birmingham, rubbing elbows with millionaires.

Now that we’re straightened out, let’s talk football.

In the weeks since the end of the World Cup – US tours, international transfers and rumors are swirling through the media day-by-day. Of course, our beloved Gunners are not exempt.

THE answer to Arsenal's Goalkeeping problems

First, the man we’ve all been waiting for (since Jens Lehmann left) Mark Schwarzer. All but confirmed, Schwarzer will be making the move from Craven Cottage to the Emirates and be the first choice between the sticks – ready to start against Liverpool and the likes of Fernando Torres and Stevie G.

Arsenal have been lacking in the goalkeeping department ever since Jens Lehmann’s departure in 2008 – even then it wasn’t truly quality work by the German.

In terms of youth, it seems that the Professor has plans for Jack Wilshere in the first team this season – and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Yes, the music is awful, but this clip of his run against Rangers in the Emirates Cup last preseason is proof enough of why this young man has talent and will be a key player in Arsenal, and England’s, future.

Perhaps I’ve saved the most controversial for last – Cesc Fabregas. I’m not really sure what can be said at this point. After seeing Pepe Reina instigating a middle school locker room bullying with the likes of Puyol and Pique – Cesc seemed rather hesitant and had a worrying laugh about him when forced into a Barca jersey. My take: he will be staying at the Emirates for the season – not leaving before the start of 2010/11, not leaving in January, staying for the season and going on to Captain us through an appearance in the Champions League final and to win the league: our Big Four performances will be different this year. That being said, I’ll wait till the transfer window is closed to hang my Cesc jersey above the TV – not yet having the same commitment that Jules’s Stevie has given to his faithful.

Ready to lead the Gunners to a title - Got that Double feeling?

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– One Nil to the Arsenal – By: Rob Dominguez

April 26, 2010

I’ve delayed writing this for about as long as I think I could have. It’s been over two weeks since our trip to Barcelona. On that day, the gunners were set up to create football history. The opportunity to once again – as had been done again and again this season – comeback from the brink of elimination and secure a place in the next round of fixtures. More importantly, a victory assured hope and gave something for the faithful to hold onto. What can be said about the performance that was put on by the gunners? Simply, that there were no Arsenal men on the pitch. Only eleven individuals. Boys.

Impostors is the adequate description. How else can the performance of the Arsenal players be addressed? From the very beginning, forget Bendtner’s goal, the style – or lack thereof – was not that of my beloved gunners. It wasn’t that of English football. It wasn’t that of top flight football. It simply looked like a group of frightened children. I know this sounds critical, especially since I’ve never walked onto a professional pitch, kit on, boots laced and listening to 98,000+ fanatics screaming my name, or wanting me dead. But, to be given that kind of opportunity, wouldn’t you imagine that you’d WANT to play a better game than the pure pish that was exhibited by those Arsenal lads?
There was one glimmer of hope: Robin Van Persie. Now, several seasons ago, I certainly had my doubts. I was not the biggest fan of RVP – aside from the fact that he resembles a tyrannosaurs – but I’ve changed my position over the past two seasons. I thought he performed excellently last season, and for this campaign to have started so well and get smashed so soon – dreadfully depressing. But, when he stepped onto the pitch for the closing sixteen of regular time – the game once again became alive. And, for the first time that night, Arsenal were on the pitch.
Here’s to you Robin – I sincerely hope next season the weight is thrust upon your shoulders and you help take us all the way.
“We’ve got that double feeling,
whoah that double feeling…”

– One Nil to the Arsenal – By: Rob Dominguez

April 8, 2010

As I explain below – my energy is, for lack of a better term, off the pace (just like the Gunners). Thus, for the next three weeks – my weekly Arsenal contribution – will be targeted towards identifying the problems faced by the squad, and how to fix them. Hopefully, I’ll have regained my energy, and with it – the Gunners will be back in stride…

I put off writing this article about as long as I could. I did everything: updated my resume, went to work, spent extra time on the pitch, played some Fifa. Conceivably, it’s kind of hard to write about a team after they’ve been ripped apart by the best player in the world, and I still have little motivation to write this as I sit in front of my computer. As a fan, I’ve sat in front of my television week after week and thought to myself, “It’s frustrating work being an Arsenal fan”. That being said, I’ve tried to look at this situation that Arsenal are in – not as a supporter – but as a coach.

– The keeper –
Manuel Almunia. How you make my head hurt. From the bleach-blonde mohawk completely lacking style, to the performances put in between the sticks week after week completely lacking quality and consistency: why didn’t the Professor replace you? After the first seven minutes of his performance in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, everyone watching was mesmerized by his miraculous shot stopping ability and saves that were seemingly impossible. These reactions would prove to be a faint glimmer of hope to what is the reality of the most inconsistent keeper in the Premier League.
However, arguably, it’s not all Almunia’s fault that he’s complete shite. When you have a resource that’s never needed, never tested, how do you know it’s still good? With the back-line that Arsenal’s started in recent seasons (since 2006, when Almunia became first choice) there’s been little to challenge the angry Spaniard. The style of football played by Arsenal and the focus on possession grant little opportunity for other teams to possess the ball, thus leaving fewer opportunities to score. In any number of outings this season, it wasn’t losses of any great magnitude that had the Arsenal faithful hanging their heads – it was the losing of 2 points in crucial fixtures that may very well cost Arsenal the title race this season.
This all leads to a theme that seems evident throughout every area of the Arsenal game: consistency. To me, as a coach, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing what a team is capable of, and then turning round on themselves and playing nowhere near their potential. The ABILITY has been clearly evident in Alumina’s performances, scattered throughout the season in all competitions, but it has not – nor has it ever – been consistent. Leaving me to say, “It’s frustrating work being an Arsenal fan”.