Tag: Arsenal

Football’s Winter Of Discontent Reaches Arsenal

There’s something in the air at The Emirates Stadium. Arsenal Football Club has had a difficult 2012 so far, and patience – for some, at least – is starting to wear thin, leading to a protest that has brought puzzled expressions from elsewhere. At this lunchtime’s match against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, a group of supporters plans to place black bin bags on seats at the ground prior to the match. But what are the reasons behind this protest, what are its aims, and are those protesting representative of the Arsenal support in a broader sense? Where Has Our Arsenal Gone has been here before, at the end of last season they protested with a march from a pub near the ground to The Emirates Stadium prior to the team’s match against Aston Villa. They have a six point manifesto – season tickets, stadium seating, commercial activity, ownership and target markets, the manager and the chairman – and it will certainly be interesting to see how many people choose to get involved in it. While the protest of the end of last season dissipated somewhat as the team’s form picked up this season, we can be reasonably certain that recent tensions have risen on account of another dip in form on the pitch. When the season began, of course, the words “Arsenal” and “crisis” seemed momentarily entwined...

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Match Of The Week 2: Arsenal 1-0 Leeds United

There remains a sense of great expectations surrounding Leeds United. To get a feel for the root cause for this, we only need to spin back four decades, when Don Revie’s team lost out on the Football League Championship to Derby County but managed a little solace in winning the FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley. Times have changed since then, of course. In the intervening forty years, Leeds United have been relegated, bounced back, won the last English title before the induction of the Premier League, plummeted back to the third tier of the English league system and only narrowly avoided closure before resurfacing in the Championship, their ambition thwarted, yet undiminished. Perhaps it is this sense of grandeur which, in recent years, seen the club over-perform against superior opposition. Two years ago, they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and gave Spurs a game and a half before succumbing after a replay. This time last year, they faced a trip to The Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal and again managed a draw before slipping up at home in a replay. Whatever limitations the Leeds United teams of the last couple of seasons may have had, they always seem capable of giving those bigger clubs a game in a one-off cup match. If psychology counts for great deal in football, then it could even be argued that,...

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A Brand-Conscious North London Derby

To be shocked at the crass commercialism in today’s money-soaked English Premiership is to be slightly naive. To develop a toothache upon hearing about how today’s top flight clubs sell their souls to fund their businesses or discover sneakier means of getting their hands deeper into your wallets, however, is perfectly normal. As we approach another weekend when rivals Tottenham and Arsenal meet to determine North London bragging rights until they meet again, it might be a wonder the encounter itself has yet to be given sponsorship or naming rights for the clubs to exploit. After all, would it be such a surprise to see in the papers or hear from the television commentators The North London Derby presented by EA Sports or The Lucozade North London Derby? Quite honestly, it’s remarkable this has yet happened, along with The Eithad Battle of Manchester. That last bit was probably on Garry Cook’s to-do list before someone hacked his email account. Still, these are two clubs not only trying to find their way on the pitch but also still working out the kinks on how they leverage themselves as Premiership brands to contest the financial might of the burgeoning twin-headed Manchester behemoth. The process of appropriately branding Arsenal has come in fits and spurts, from the creation of a separate online presence for followers stateside that initially seemed a dumbed-down version of the...

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Match Of The Week: Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Arsenal

For the second time this season, the heavens opened on a Saturday lunchtime for Arsenal in more senses than one today, and this time around they contrived to be more defensively profligate than on the previous occasion, last month against Liverpool. For all the hysteria in the immediate aftermath of that match, it was plausible to chalk down that loss as having had a element of the freak about it. An own goal and a second on the break with only seconds left to play gave Arsenal’s supporters something to cling to and, while the thrashing at the hands of Manchester United managed to speak for itself, results since then – a scrambled and slightly fortuitous win against Swansea City followed by an honorable draw at Dortmund in the Champions League – offered a fig leaf of respectability to a season that has has largely, thus far, been one of massive disappointment. Today, though, the fig leaf was washed away in the Lancashire rain. Prior to kick-off, it was the supporters of Blackburn Rovers that were actively demonstrating, calling for the head of their most peculiar choice of manager, Steve Kean. They may even reflect this evening that their team didn’t even play particularly brilliantly this afternoon – rather, they took advantage of the chances that they had, showed a little character in overturning a two goal deficit and...

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Arsene Wenger & The Complex Current Frailty Of Arsenal

Pathetic fallacy is the use, by a writer, of words that give human feelings or qualities to objects or in nature. It reached, perhaps, the zenith of its usage in the gothic novels of the late eighteenth century, and one cannot help but wonder whether the likes of Bram Stoker or Mary Shelley might have been looking down approvingly on Saturday lunchtime as the heavens opened, both literally and metaphorically, upon Arsenal’s season. As London was washed by an unseasonable shower of rain, so were Arsenal swept aside by Liverpool, and in doing so, a trickle of criticism has become a torrent, to the extent that it is possible that the club’s season may evencome sliding to a halt before it has had the chance to build any momentum. Sometimes, simple imagery speaks more loudly than words and if there was a higher being of some description looking down upon The Emirates Stadium on Saturday, it was a being intent on loading Arsenal’s weekend with such symbolism. The front rows of seats there are exposed to the elements, meaning that those that sit there who are caught in the rain may shuffle back under the cover that it provided by the back of the stand. This is all very reasonable behaviour, but on Saturday it left some viewers idly wondering aloud whether swathes of the support had given up and gone home with fifteen...

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