Tag: Arsenal

Blackburn May Prove A Tipping Point For Arsene Wenger

It was on the seventeenth of January 1996 that this last happened. Having been held at Highbury by Sheffield United, Bruce Rioch’s Arsenal team travelled north to Brammall Lane for a replay in Third Round of the FA Cup but were beaten by a goal mid-way through the second half, scored for the Division One club by Carl Veart. At the end of a season which saw Arsenal beaten over two legs in the semi-finals of the League Cup by Aston Villa and finishing in fifth place in the Premier League – a considerable improvement on the team’s twelfth-placed finish the season before under George Graham and the hapless Stuart Houston – Arsenal embarked upon a summer of discontent which culminated in Rioch leaving the club five days before the start of the new season after a dispute with the club’s vice-chairman David Dein (and, by proxy, its then-majority shareholder Danny Fiszman) over transfer funds. Rioch is now little more than a footnote in the history of this club, remembered for being little more than the man who brought Dennis Bergkamp to the club. His successor warrants a chapter of his own, but at The Emirates Stadium yesterday afternoon it started to feel as if a tipping point may have been reached in the increasingly fractured relationship between Arsene Wenger and the supporters of Arsenal Football Club. Already knocked...

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Ticket Prices And The Costs Of Having An Opinion

Sixty-two, it would appear, may just be the magic number. It is starting to feel as if battle lines are being drawn in the ongoing debate over the extent to which ticket prices for matches have spiralled out of all control, and if last Sunday’s match between Arsenal and Manchester City was notable for anything in particular, then perhaps two stories to have followed in its aftermath have proved to be particularly instructive in terms of showing us who will be on whose side as the argument rumbles on. First up is the small matter of the deselection of the referee’s assistant who seemed to summarise the frustration that so many supporters are feeling at the moment over not only the issue of ticket prices, but also concerning the attitudes of the people that have been the chief beneficiaries of the money that has poured into the game over the last couple of decades or so: the players themselves. Linesman John Brooks was picked up by the microphones of the television cameras on the pitch at the end of Sunday afternoon’s match telling Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart that, “They’ve paid 62 quid over there – go and see them” after Manchester City’s two-nil win at The Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon. He earned himself considerable praise amongst supporters and some sections of the press for saying this –...

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Arsenal’s Torpor Shouldn’t Detract From Bradford City’s Achievement

The headlines tomorrow morning, of course, will all be about Arsene Wenger. This was not only a chance to give a strong team a run out against apparently weaker opposition, but it was also in a competition which, whilst it might not be capable of equalling the delirium of winning the Champions League in the excitement stakes, offered a great chance of lifting a piece of silverware and dissipating the smell of mustiness that has been starting emanate from Arsenal’s trophy cabinet of late. That Arsenal lost was one source of woe for those that travelled from London to West Yorkshire, but layered upon this was the nature and timbre of that defeat. This was a team performance that Arsenal were fortunate get to as much as extra-time from. It was, in one performance, a series of manifestations of every shortcoming of which they have been accused of suffering from in recent years. Every excuse sounds inadequate. The League Cup is a trophy at the end of the season. It cannot be argued that it doesn’t matter. Wenger didn’t play a significantly weakened team – it was a full first team. They created little of note for the first sixty minutes of the match and required an inelegant goal three minutes from the end of the ninety to force so much as extra-time. As late as the penalty shoot-out...

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Arsenal Supporters Prepare For A Winter Of Discontent

It wasn’t so much the fact of the defeat itself, of course. There are few clubs on the planet that would expect to come away from Old Trafford with a win but this was not really the matter at hand. What will have been vexing Arsenal supporters this afternoon will have been the manner of their defeat. This match was emphatically not the sort of titantic battle of wills and egos that we have come to expect from such fixtures in recent years. This was a match between championship contenders and a mid-table side, a welcome perfunctory Saturday afternoon stroll for a Manchester United squad that has been exerted by two consecutive matches against Chelsea in the last six days, and the final result was one which, if anything, flattered the losers even more than it flattered the winners. The paucity of Arsenals performance this afternoon may even have been sufficient to cast a shadow over what should have been the over-arching story of this match – Robin Van Persies first match against the club that he called home for eight years. Van Persie had his moment, of course, scoring inside three minutes after an increasingly customary mistake by Thomas Vermaelen, and in some respects it almost felt like a relief to have this sub-plot defined so early in the game. From here on, the match fell into what...

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The 200% Pre-Season Previews – Arsenal

Welcome to the first of our annual pre-season previews, this year starting with the Premier League and therefore, Arsenal. For those of you stopping by for the first time, there’ll be no in-depth tactical analysis here, and no hard and fast predictions for how teams will do over the next nine months. Consider these previews a taster of the deluge of previews that will be coming your way over the next few weeks and an overview of the state of your club, and you shouldn’t be too disappointed. Eventually, they managed to hold it together and they scraped through by the skin of their teeth. Arsenal clung onto their Champions League place at the end of last season, and enjoyed a small end of season bonus when their rivals Tottenham Hotspur missed out on a space at that particular trough thanks to Chelseas unlikely win in Munich. This summer, however, has not been a particularly easy one for the club, with boardroom machinations reaching fever pitch and the player that was most responsible for last season’s revival giving the impression of not wanting to spend too much longer at the club. The Robin Van Persie saga has already been one of the most protracted of the summer and there remains an outside chance that it might last for much of next season as well, although the players imminent departure...

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