Thursday
Dec112014

Ramsey is the problem, not the solution



So much garbage is spoken about players these days, alongside this forced, limp-wristed desire to be positive when the reality is - after the club’s worst start in 32 years, Arsenal is led by a egomaniacal dictator that will only ever leave when his cold dead fingers are crowbarred off his contract.

So let’s start with one player I’ve never been a big fan of, Aaron Ramsey. For me he’s a limited, lightweight player, one of whom consistent inclusion in the first team part-ensures that Arsenal will never compete for a major trophy.

Signed by the club in 2008 for £4.8m and commanding a salary of approximately £100,000 a week, the Welshman famously endured a double-fracture in 2010 during a Premier League game against Stoke City. Prior to that, he was just another Wenger hopeful. A young boy with promise and potential; rarely fulfilled.

Post-injury, his performances were limited and ordinary, understandable perhaps considering the seriousness of the break. However, that was five years ago now, and beyond the fact that Ramsey pings a goal in every now and then, we’re still left with a player that, while possessing undoubted technique in striking a ball, offers little else.

Ramsey’s 16 goals last season silenced a lot of critics, but I always wondered whether this was simply an anomaly. Apart from the two he scored last night in a meaningless victory against the worst team in the entire Champions League group stages, this season Ramsey has returned to the inefficient, somewhat invisible player of old - slow, weak in the tackle and lacking in tactical discipline, producing little discernible effect on a football match, and occasionally, a liability.

Whereas managers and players may have previously ignored Ramsey, following last season’s goal flux, he has likely been signalled out during their pre-match preparations. Opposing players start to watch his runs, mark him out as a threat. Like all players that are specialists in any given area, eventually that threat is negated.

Good players, assuming they have something else in their locker, adapt, others fade into obscurity. Does Ramsey have the ability to broaden his expertise? The question remains unanswered.

If goalscoring is Ramsey’s only speciality, then I’d question his genuine usefulness considering he’s only ever scored two against a top-tiered Premier League club in his entire career - the winner against Man Utd three years ago and one at home to Liverpool last season. As a creator of goals, Ramsey is limited. 21 assists in 160 appearances is average for a central midfielder playing for a big club that formulates its tactics around having multiple attacking options.

One wonders what role Ramsey is actually a specialist in. Is he a defensive midfielder? No. Does he have creative vision? No. A good range of long and short passing? No. Does he turn up in big games? No. The fact is, Ramsey is one of those players that needs those around him to make him look good. A flimsy, technical player that is adequate at everything but master of nothing other than floating around in midfield waiting for a long shot to present itself, or attempting late runs into the box in the hope of getting on the end of a loose ball.

Last season you might say he was rather good at the latter, but if he can’t do that consistently then he’s nothing more than a passenger – a poor man’s Frank Lampard.

Surprisingly, this article is not designed as an attack on Aaron Ramsey. His limitations are not his fault, and neither is it his fault he’s selected in every game, nor infused with the necessary tactical acumen to play a suitable role in a team with title ambitions. At most, he should be a bit-part player, a bench warmer shoved late on when you need an extra attacking option from midfield.

Meanwhile, I can’t be the only one to find his interview technique symptomatic of the malaise that runs like a disease throughout the entire squad. On Wenger, he commented: “He’s been under some unfair criticism.” - ???? “Every player here wants to work hard for him, we have proven that again.” What, like you did against Stoke four days earlier?

Like Per Mertesacker and Mikael Arteta, who are also full of nauseatingly empty words these days, over the long-term it all rings hollow and comes across as nothing more than a bunch of losers brainwashed to accept fourth; backing up a manager because their place is secured in the team. And why wouldn't Ramsey, and other players of his ilk, suck up to Arsene Wenger? After all, you'd love your boss too if you were paid four times what you're worth. 

—oo— 

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Monday
Dec082014

Wenger fan attack



A lot has been made in the media of the video circulating on the internet of supporters verbally abusing Arsene Wenger following the 3-2 defeat by Stoke at the weekend.

Initially, there is an element of slapstick regarding the cajoling of forgotten striker Joel Campbell, yet the tirades aimed at Arsene Wenger were a lot more than that, with aggressive boos and jeers, including the comments “**** off” and “Get out of our club”.

The media response has been predictable, lambasting supporters for their frothing vitriol. However, there must have been a dozen games at the Emirates in recent years where thousands of supporters have booed and abused Wenger after a bad result, so I can’t imagine this is anything Wenger has not heard before.

The difference perhaps is that the recording of a dozen supporters allows you to hear almost every word, whereas in a stadium the thousands of catcalls become a mass of white noise. If you could hear all those remarks individually, the chants on this YouTube clip would probably be deemed charitable by comparison.

In an ideal world, there would be no necessity to aggressively berate your manager in public, but the situation at Arsenal is not ideal. The fans’ contempt is not the result of one poor performance; it’s the outpouring of collective resentment based on years of frustration.

Wenger hardly has cause for complaint, as he has been found guilty of swearing and insulting fourth officials during matches, for which he has been charged. I see no difference between Wenger’s frustration boiling over due to what he regards as inept officiating and the fans’ frustration at his inept management.

Some supporters have called on others to make their minds up about Wenger at the end of the season, but this is not feasible, as by that point there is no way for supporters to express their dissatisfaction. Wenger simply goes on holiday and comes back months later espousing the same old rubbish and the whole circle starts again.

He knows this of course, hence his requests for everyone to judge him in May, before cowardly vanishing without making himself answerable to his promises of accountability.

That’s why protests need to happen during the season, not at the end. The fact that the YouTube video has been discussed in most parts of the media only adds gravitas to the fans’ homily. In other words, whether you like it or not, what the supporters did served its purpose, and while personally I would not have chosen the exact same words to express my discontent at Wenger’s abysmal management, I can certainly understand why others see it as the only way they can be heard.

Regarding the issue of respect; respect can be earned but can also be lost – and that’s where I stand on the matter. For me, there is no caveat. I am grateful for the success Wenger brought to the club over a decade ago, but I don’t respect him. As anyone that has followed this blog over the years knows, I find him a hugely egotistical, arrogant and manipulative individual that has completely destroyed his legacy.

I judge people on a lot more than their achievements alone. There are managers out there that haven’t won a bean but deserve far more respect for the way they carry themselves, respond to adversity, and the way they go about their jobs with transparency, lucidity and accountability.

At this point, the respectful thing for Wenger to do would be to accept that he is incapable of fulfilling his role and stop criminally wasting the club’s resources - a decision he should have made in May having departed with the façade of success that was the FA Cup.

Predictably, his ego would not allow it.

On a lighter note, I’ve tried writing about the rest of the Premier League for five months but my heart’s not really in it. The experiment – for that is was what it was, failed, primarily because the more I analyse the Premier League, the more I realise it’s not worth the effort. This week, with a double-load of matches, I really couldn’t be bothered to pen anything.

I am an Arsenal supporter - always have been and always will be, and it’s now become obvious to me that I either write about Arsenal or write about nothing.

Arsenal Truth was the first blog to request the departure of Wenger five years ago. At the time I was crucified and ridiculed for holding that opinion, so I feel I’m due some credit for analysing and predicting the mess that so many Arsenal fans now deem completely unacceptable.

Therefore, you may be pleased to know that Arsenal Truth is back. I can’t promise I will watch every game in detail (or any game in detail) or write match reports, and I might go weeks saying nothing or weeks saying everything. What I can promise, however, is that the blog will be just as honest and open as it always was, if not more so.

There will be no hiding place for anyone or anything. Arsenal, the institution comes first, not its employees and certainly not its current manager.

—oo— 

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Friday
Aug222014

Fabregas the answer to solving Mourinho's attacking rigidity



Cesc Fabregas joined Arsenal in September 2003 - aged just 16, and was thrust into the first team by Arsene Wenger within two months of his arrival to become Arsenal’s youngest ever first team debutant.

By the age of 21, Fabregas had been made Arsenal’s captain and the Spanish youngster spent eight years at the club in total. His technical brilliance, allied to his agile, light frame created a ticking metronome at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. An assist machine, with a steely determination to win, he soon become one of the Premier League’s hottest imports and most sought after talents in European football.

Arsenal had repeatedly rejected advances for Fabregas to rejoin his boyhood club, but the Spanish club’s unsettling tactics, combined with Fabregas’ clear desire to move, resulted in a bid of approximately £30m being accepted by Arsenal in August 2011.

When Fabregas joined Barcelona, the assumption was that he would be on the bench acting as understudy to Xavi before gradually taking over his role in the first team. However, Pep Guardiola had other ideas. Despite 212 appearances in the Premier League and 61 in Europe, and although Fabregas was considered by Pep Guardiola to be far from the finished article, the plan was to convert Fabregas into a ‘False 9’ striker - not to replace Lionel Messi, but to give the manager another option.

For those unfamiliar with the term, ‘False 9’, the role is similar to that of the central attacking midfielder, but perhaps more difficult to fulfill. The idea is that the False 9 acts primarily as a lone striker but drops deep into midfield where defenders can be dragged out of position, allowing the exploitation of space in behind via through balls to onrushing wingers or late runners from midfield. However, apart from having to be able to create in an instant, the False 9 also has to have the adaptability to be assertive in the final third, and be able to score goals too. Successfully adapting to the position requires tactical intelligence; intelligence that Guardiola believed Fabregas either possessed or could be honed to possess.

Having broken his tibia and with little hope of participating in the 2011/12 season, David Villa’s loss was Fabregas’ gain, with Guardiola deeming the Spaniard ready to fulfil the False 9 role – albeit ahead of time. Alexis Sanchez was recruited to play on the left flank, with Lionel Messi on the right and Fabregas rotating in-between. 

Few people really understand the level of detail, intelligence, focus and exertion required for a manager like Guardiola to create his brand of attacking football. Every run and movement has to be strategised and tirelessly rehearsed in training. There is a reason that Guardiola has become one of the most revered, successful and tactically disciplined managers of his era – and, like all managers, it stems from detailed work on the training ground.

Indeed, Fabregas commented on his period of adaptation, “I was free to do whatever on the pitch at Arsenal, and I wasn't tactically good," he said. "I was playing wherever I wanted, up and down. Here I have to work much more for the team, individually, and think about the team tactically.”

This is not a position that any player could easily adapt to, and make no mistake, Fabregas did struggle to adapt. He no longer had the naive freedom offered to him at Arsenal, and his tendency to play a more direct style, which had almost become part of his DNA, tended to upset the fragile balance of Guardiola’s precise choreography.

As Barcelona lost grip of the title in 2011/12 to Real Madrid, Guardiola grew impatient and started to lose faith in Fabregas’ ability to fully adapt. Despite putting in some impressive performances, Fabregas struggled to fit convincingly into the manager’s jigsaw.

When Man Utd came forward with a £40m bid in the summer of 2013, Barcelona were keen to sell, but Fabregas was not keen to give up his dream so easily, or move to Manchester. However, two months later, a change of heart. In an interview with The Guardian, shortly after the dawn of a new season, Fabregas opened the door to a return to Arsenal with a thinly disguised patronage of his former club.

The interview also made interesting reading for another reason, with Fabregas offering a reasoned analysis of why it was easier for him to flourish in the Premier League, but not Spain. On English football, Fabregas stated: “It's much more crazy, out of control, everyone attacking, pouring forward” The crowd plays a part. The crowd roar and the full-back bombs forward and then the other full-back goes forward… sometimes in England it feels like you don't have time to think, but that's more a mental question; it's more about your own aggressive intuition, the atmosphere. It motivates you but it means you lose control.”

In England, the aggression and high tempo was not a detriment to Fabregas’ ability to spot a pass or control a game from midfield, but an asset. Unlike Spain, players get caught up in the atmosphere of a match, move out of position, lose possession easily in the searing pace, thus creating more space for the likes of Fabregas to operate, not less.

Fabregas continued: “In Spain, teams work much more on shape; they're more tactical, more positional. A Spanish-style footballer, like [David] Silva or Özil, if they can find two seconds to think, will see the pass because there'll be space. In Spain, you're up against a Mario Suárez or a Gabi and what a pain they are! In Spain, reducing space is worked on more.”

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso once mocked the English mentality towards aggressive football: 'Tackling is not really a quality, it's more something you are forced to resort to when you don't have the ball…I can't get into my head that footballing development would educate tackling as a quality.’’ Fabregas agreed, “That's how we tend to see it in Spain: defenders don't swallow the dummies as quickly. In England the attacker goes, ping! and the defender dives in quickly, flying by, wheeee! In Spain the defender stays on his feet longer. “

For all the criticism of Fabregas’ perceived failure to adapt to Spanish football – or the Barcelona way, in his final season, the Spaniard's stats as a creator were only bettered in the whole of Europe by Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria. It is true that Fabregas’ goalscoring did show a trend of dropping off towards the ends of each season, but 42 goals in 151 matches can hardly be described as a poor return. Indeed the ratio was far better than he managed at Arsenal.

Throughout 2013/14 Fabregas’ was Barcelona’s third most used player behind Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano – but then, for Barcelona it was never about goals scored and assists provided, but adapting to a philosophy where anything other than perfection was dissected. At Barcelona, if a cog has a blunt edge and cannot be quickly polished, it's just as quickly discarded. 

From a winning perspective, Fabregas’ time spent at Barcelona could not be considered a failure; he got the domestic trophies he wanted, including La Liga, plus the Copa Del Rey and two Spanish Supercups. With Fabregas feeling he was being forced out, and Barcelona keen to sell, it was Arsenal that had first refusal, yet Wenger declined, preferring to stand by Mesut Özil and the emerging Aaron Ramsey.

Instead, Fabregas made his return to the Premier League at Chelsea in June for £30m, where once again he is likely to find the space to terrorise defences as he had done at Arsenal three years earlier. He might not fit into Barcelona's system, but back in England it will be like hand in glove. Indeed, Fabregas is perhaps even more dangerous now than before, operating under one of the most tactically astute managers in Europe whilst still coveting Guardiola’s principles in his memory bank - Fabregas could be the key to unlocking Mourinho's Chelsea potential, particularly their stilted attack.

—oo— 

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Saturday
Aug162014

Chelsea is my tip for the title



I’m tipping Chelsea for the Premier League title.

I thought Mourinho did a good job on his return to the club last season, but he was clearly hampered by a strike force of collective duds. Therefore the £32m signing of Diego Costa is likely to be an upgrade, and while Didier Drogba is unlikely to terrify defences the way he used to, he will still be a good addition if used intelligently.

Cesc Fabregas is an inspired signing. Still only 27, we all know of his creative quality, but Fabregas could get double figures from midfield too. However, I am very surprised that Fernando Torres is still at the club. His goal record is poor and he’s lost a yard of pace since his Liverpool days – I can only imagine his wages are too high to provoke an offer.

Chelsea had the best defence by a mile last season, so Mourinho’s focus will be on the attacking end, and with Costa, Drogba and Fabregas supplying additional firepower - and the rapidly improving Andre Schurrle pushing on, I can see them getting close to the 90 point mark.

Fighting Chelsea for the title will be Man City. They have too much talent to fade away, but will need to start better than they did last season and be more focused throughout. Despite being Premier League champions, they were sloppy at times and a mess at the back whenever Vincent Kompany was absent. But the £32m signing of centre back Eliaquim Mangala and addition of defensive midfielders Fernando and Bruno Zuculini provide evidence that manager Manuel Pellegrini is looking to address these defensive concerns.

With Louis Van Gaal in charge, I would be astounded if Man Utd did not make the top four this season. Obviously, he has an aura about him that David Moyes did not, and that, married to his experience and the fact that United do not have the distraction of European football should make a big difference to them.

United had the joint best away record in the Premier League last season, keep that up and rectify their baffling home form and they’ll be right up there. However, my doubts about Utd’s ability to sustain a title challenge revolve around their defence; I’m really surprised they haven’t bought a centre back yet. Although there’s still time, it’s hardly ideal preparation for the new season.

Obviously this is a concern for Van Gaal, hence the 3-5-2 formation used in pre-season, and such doubts make me wonder whether United are capable of putting in a strong title challenge.

I expect the battle for fourth place to be between Arsenal and Liverpool, with Arsenal edging it. The effect of Luis Suarez’s departure, and the fact that Liverpool will be playing in Europe next season, cannot be underestimated. Suarez was a force of nature. The Uruguayan took all the pressure off the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Stirling; they excelled alongside him but will now have to step up and shoulder the burden of winning matches – a big ask.

Having said that, Brendan Rodgers is clearly a very intelligent and flexible manager. Rickie Lambert will give them another option, Adam Lallana further attacking threat – but for me they need to buy a world class striker capable of scoring 20+ a season, and so far their attempts appear to have hit a brick wall. Centre-back Dejan Lovren has joined Lallana from Southampton, but for me Liverpool are still weak at the back and for all his influence and ability to control a game I don’t see the ageing Steven Gerrard as the right man to shield the back four.

As for Arsenal, the signing of Alexis Sanchez is an excellent one. If the Chilean can duplicate his attacking prowess at Barcelona, he will certainly add goals from wide positions. When Theo Walcott is fit, Mesut Ozil will have multiple angles to hit, which should make him more effective following a dismal debut season.

Still, Arsenal’s problems remain much the same, notably Wenger’s tactical inflexibility and a squad that is blunt at both ends. Olivier Giroud doesn’t cut it against the top sides, and if he gets injured for a long spell there is no one that can be relied upon to deputise. Arsenal’s defence has the same problem, threadbare with only Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as trusted centre backs, while there is a question mark over whether new signing Mathieu Debuchy has the same defensive quality as the departed Bacary Sagna.

Then of course there’s the defensive midfield role, still occupied by Mikael Arteta, who is inadequate at shielding the defence in key games. Following the departure of Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal’s defence appears to have gone backwards, and asking 19-year-old Calum Chambers (£16m) to fill the void and provide the quality required to compete for major trophies is a typical Wenger gamble that could backfire.

Finally, Everton and Spurs are likely to provide stubborn opposition. Everton have blown £28m on Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry has joined on a free from Man City, but these players were already at the club last season, so the Toffees have not upgraded anything yet.

Tottenham have also been slow to make additions, but do have a bright managerial prospect in Mauricio Pochettino. This could make Spurs the surprise package next season in the battle for fourth, but I wouldn’t’ hold my breath, or open my wallet and bet on it.

Of course, we still have the mad scramble known as ‘Deadline Day’ on August 31 to look forward to, but at present this is how I see the top 7 finishing:

1.       Chelsea
2.       Man City
3.       Man Utd
4.       Arsenal
5.       Liverpool
6.       Tottenham
7.       Everton

—oo— 

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Wednesday
Apr302014

Goodbye from Arsenal Truth

This will be my last post of the season, and probably the last Wenger-related post until he leaves.

I was hoping he would leave this season, which is the only reason I returned to blogging, but it’s becoming clear that Wenger has made his lamentable excuses and will sign his contract no matter what happens.

In my eyes, 2013/14 has been nothing short of predictable, highlighting exactly why Wenger should not be given a new contract. A normal club would find a way to let Wenger leave without making it look like a sacking. Alternatively, you’d like to think the Frenchman would have the guts to own up to his clear and obvious deficiencies as a manager and hand the reigns over.

Unfortunately, Wenger’s greed for money and power, and the board’s contemptuous ignorance seem to be indefatigably tied.

In terms of the season itself, Arsenal led the Premier League when it mattered least, then collapsed as per usual with humiliating and predictable precision. The result of Steve Bould’s defensive coaching has undoubtedly seen a marked improvement in Arsenal’s defending against the weaker Premier League sides, but it’s not enough. Meanwhile, after a string of disastrous thrashings against most of the division’s top teams, the widening tactical gulf both at home and in Europe is becoming little short of an embarrassment.

Always looking for a scapegoat, or an event deemed to be out of his control, the cowardly Wenger has chosen to blame all of Arsenal’s woes on injuries – injuries that are often his fault because Wenger has always been guilty of overplaying individuals until they are physically incapable of performing.

Unlike intelligent managers, Wenger refuses to rotate his squad, (a) because every season he misjudges what is required to challenge for major trophies, and (b) he has no clue how to beat the opposition other than by fielding what he deems to be his strongest players ALL the time.

However, the key reasons for Arsenal’s continual underperformance remain a combination of Wenger’s imbecilic tactics and total failure to inspire his players.

In Europe, nothing’s changed, Arsenal have no chance of competing for the Champions League under Wenger’s clueless administration. Once again, the Frenchman has proved to have nothing remotely resembling a game plan. Bayern Munich was another perfect example of Wenger’s seasonal failure in Europe, his players entering the tie tactically underprepared and demonstrating yet again their perpetual inability to cope, react and respond to pressure.

Anyone that still thinks its mere coincidence - or bad luck - that Arsenal get taken out of the Champions League in exactly the same way virtually every season, virtually 17 seasons is a row, is either spectacularly dumb or as irrevocably deluded as Wenger clearly is.

On the barely positive side, Arsenal have reached the FA Cup Final, which brings some hope of an end to the club’s tiresome nine-year trophy drought. Long-suffering Arsenal fans deserve that, but nothing about the path to glory has been impressive, quite the opposite, as Arsenal bundled through a series of home draws with mostly unconvincing performances and had the good fortune of facing relegation candidates, two championship sides and a league one team in the closing stages.

Needless to say, winning the cup against a dismal Hull side with two suspended strikers will not be a stepping stone to a glorious new era. The club remains hamstrung by Wenger’s absurd decision-making, such as hoping to challenge for major honours banking on one striker that’s incapable of scoring a goal against a top club and a 19-year-old injury-ravaged-nobody from France that had hardly kicked a ball in his entire professional career. Wenger then compounding his miserable lack of ambition by not strengthening in January despite having enormous funds available. As if that wasn’t stupid enough, we also had to witness the senseless tactical incompetence that led to the downgrade of record £42.5m signing Mesut Ozil from a world-class player to a witless underperformer with a dismal attitude.

Unless Wenger changes his tactics, don’t expect much more from Ozil next season.

Meanwhile, the decision to buy a midfielder with a broken back in January because it was ‘better than nothing’ is quite simply risible management – unfortunately, such absurd decisions in the transfer market have become commonplace under Wenger’s tenure.

In terms of what Arsenal’s criminally overcharged fans pay to see, good football is now a long, distant memory, replaced by functional, dull, sideways passing -  a result of Wenger’s hideously moribund tactics. You can virtually predict every movement as it plays out before your eyes, to the extent where even the goals are predictable.

As for summer signings, I won’t be around to report on them. You can guarantee it will be the same old botched nonsense it has been for years. Whoever Wenger signs, expect the same old failures to occur next season, and the same old excuses to go along with it.

What Wenger cannot blame, however, is lack of money. First, the half-year accounts showed £140m sitting in the bank last summer; probably a lot more now since the Puma deal. Second, Liverpool’s title challenge has totally blown Wenger’s excuses about not having sufficient funds to match the likes of Man City, Man Utd or Chelsea out of the water.

When Wenger embarked on Project Youth, he blamed lack of resources and team building for Arsenal’s failures, yet relative novice Brendan Rodgers has made him look a fool, and still has a chance of winning the league with an array of young and inexperienced players such as Sturridge 24, Coutinho 21, Flanagan 21, Henderson 23, Sakho 24, Allen 24, and Sterling 19.

What Wenger lacks is not money, but Rodgers tactical intelligence and the ability to both inspire and invoke confidence and composure in his players.

In Spain, meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have done very much the same, as they challenge for La Liga against the financial might of Barcelona and Real Madrid on a budget more akin to Everton’s. Atletico are in the Champions League Final too, which proves that Europe is not necessarily an impediment to domestic success.

So, Arsenal are stuck with the clueless tactical berk for another two to three years, led – or perhaps 'followed' would be more apt -  by a boardroom full of clueless berks who haven’t the first idea what they’re doing when it comes to managing a football club of Arsenal’s size and stature.

A large number of Arsenal fans should also shoulder some responsibility for their cowardly refusal to apply pressure to the existing regime and their negative small club mentality that only ensures indefinite mediocrity.

And so the misery continues, with no hope on the horizon whatsoever and nothing remotely resembling ambition or leadership coming from anyone within the club. I have no idea when I will write Arsenal Truth again and I’m not going to make the mistake of claiming I won’t - I write on impulse and always have.

My impulse at the moment is to never watch 90 minutes of Arsenal again until the cancer eating away at the club is removed. My support would only ensure Wenger's continuity, and, seeing as I'm a man of principle, that's not a road I intend to go down. Neither is sitting on the fence writing a blog to exploit money out of people, which is relatively easy - and remarkably commonplace - these days.

In the meantime, many thanks to the website’s many contributors this season;  there’s been a lot more humour this time around which has made things more bearable, and hardly any dissenters, which is very telling.

I will leave the comments section open while I decide whether to close the blog. Unfortunately, it’s not financially viable to keep it running empty.

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligent and well-written. All others will be binned.