Monthly Archives: March 2012

In other words, a massive twat

QPR v. Arsenal: Joey and Sparky

What makes Joey Barton Joey Barton? What is the teleological explanation of the being that exists before us both in games and on Twitter? Did God make him this way or was it us? Unfortunately, Joey Barton might not even play tomorrow as Arsenal travel to Loftus Road to play Queen’s Park Rangers and so it could prove that our pantomime villain is once again set free.

In a sense, a being set free despite his numerous transgressions is the teleology of Joey Barton. People make excuses for him, therefore he is what he is. We made him, in our image, so that he could punch Gamst in the chest or knee Arshavin in the back and get off scott free.

Footballistically, Joey Barton is an average midfielder who excels at playing long balls and crosses and in nearly every other measure is mostly crap. For a center mid, his passing percentages are diabolical. And before you say that he’s a wing player, he’s been deployed 21 times as a center mid this season. The fact that Arsenal was linked to Joey Barton this summer was proven once again to be a creation of Joey Barton’s mind as Arsene Wenger once again, today, categorically refuted the notion that Arsenal targeted Barton for a summer transfer.

But Joey Barton isn’t really a footballer any more. What he does on the pitch is always overshadowed by what he does off the pitch. Benched for their match against Sunderland, Joey was up to his old tricks making “5-1″ gestures at the Sunderland crowd, lording over them with his glorious win, when he played for another team. He acts out like this because we feed him in the social media outlets like this blog and Twitter and the newspapers. I mean, the press asked Arsene Wenger today if he meant to buy Joey Barton this summer. If that doesn’t prove to you that we are the raison detre of this man’s existence nothing will.

The problem is that as much as I’d like to never talk about him again, it’s nigh impossible at this point. Despite his benching against Sunderland I fully expect Barton to play and as a result of his team fighting to escape relegation coupled with his long-standing hatred of Arsenal I also expect that there will be sparks. Meaning that no matter how much I want to stave the beast, I probably will feed him.

His manager, “Sparky” Hughes also has a long standing hatred of Arsenal and when manager of Manchester City the dustups with Wenger were notorious. He’s dusting up with other managers now as well and saddled with a team that is worth a pittance compared to the team he rode out on at height of his managerial career Hughes will certainly resort to form: kick, throw, punch, and hit an absolute ass-load of long balls in to Bobby Zamora or Jay Bothroyd.

If there’s a silver lining it’s that Helguson and Faurlin are both out injured for QPR and that Koscielny is back for Arsenal. Helguson averages a league leading 4.5 aerial duels won per game and Faurlin is 13th in the League in accurate long balls per game with 6.2. Meanwhile, Koz is Arsenal’s most dominant aerial defender and he will have his hands full no matter who he plays.

QPR are 5th in the League in long balls per game and with Arsenal coming to town will probably not have much choice in terms of possession other than to hit long balls. With that said, wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was Arsenal who got the early goal, defended, and played the long ball tactic while QPR gets all tiki taka?

One Arsenal tactic that I’ll be looking for is long balls played out of defense to Bacary Sagna. He’s been on a tear of late winning a boatload of headers but almost all of them have been midfield headers, coming in from Szczesny. Targeted as he has been as an offensive outlet, it’s no surprise, then, that his being back in the team has directly caused the revitalization of Theo Walcott’s season. Rangers will be severely tested down their left flank by both of them as Sagna looks to get a goal on his 200th outing for the Arsenal.

Arsenal are riding high at the moment and should they extend their win streak to 8 games (knock on wood) it will be the first such streak since 2004. The wonderful thing about the streak so far is that the team are really starting to gel and look happy both on and off the pitch. Arsenal are at such a feel-good moment in the club house that they have even put out a pretty funny video about Jenkinson’s teammates ragging him for his mohican haircut. Personally, I can’t wait for the intervention of the team on Gervinho, maybe that video will come out if and when Arsenal win 10 in a row.

And finally, not to bring you down or anything but, the referee tomorrow is Mike Dean.

You probably just had the exact same reaction that I did when I read that this morning. Something along the lines of “fuck me.”

Dean is notorious in Arsenal circles for a number of odd stats that follow him around. First was the fact that before the 5-2 win over Tottenham, Arsenal had won just one of their last 13 matches refereed by Mike Dean. Then there’s the fact that he is head and shoulders the League’s most liberal referee when it comes to penalty decisions, having awarded 12 pens so far this season. Yet, oddly, Dean hasn’t awarded Arsenal a penalty since September 2008. Dean has awarded in total 67 penalties in the 170 matches he has refereed since that match. One pen every 2.5 games. Dean has refereed 15 Arsenal matches in that same span and awarded just 3 penalties: one pen every five games and none to Arsenal.

Another odd fact? Arsenal haven’t won back to back games refereed by Mike Dean since… they beat Chelsea 2-1 in 2008. Dean’s next game after that aforementioned Blackburn game.

Right… The game is on Fox Soccer Plus at 7am tomorrow morning and I will provide picture updates in a separate post, I hope. See you then.


Flickr Thursday: Diversity

Welcome to this week’s post of photos from the 7amkickoff flickr group. If you don’t know, the purpose of the group is to share photographic memories of your Arsenal experiences with other Arsenal supporters. We already have 44 members who have contributed over 600 photos to the pool. I’m hopeful that one day we will have 60,000 members!

If you’re not already a member, join today and your photos will likely be on the blog next Thursday!

04-16-2006   7

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for any photo of Highbury. So if you have them, share! Here’s one from the Grateful Gooner of our captain who was just a fresh-faced young man back in 2006.

kick off at last game at highbury

liamaustin24 added his photo from the final game at Highbury. I love the lo-fi quality, our digital cameras sucked back then and this was probably taken on film. Maybe liamaustin24 can tell us.

cheap fuel, ajax away

Another thing that I’m a sucker for is snapshots of away supporters. The people in the photos almost always have such a huge grin.


Same guys (liamaustin24 and his mates) different city, this time instead of a trip to Axaj (above) they made the trek to Barcelona. Suffolk, Kuala Lumpur, Tacoma, it doesn’t matter they are all Gooners.


Spin forward a few years and Gooners are back in the same place! This time it’s Grateful Gooner again, lucky bastard. Someone should petition FIFA to force Barcelona to make accommodations for away supporters closer to the ground. Surely this is a human rights issue, Sepp?


But it’s always about coming back to North London. Here the Grateful Gooner gets a great shot of the tube station named after Arsenal!

The Emirates: Arsenal v Aston Villa.

dKay takes us around to the Armory side. Note the players in unity on the mural. That is Arsenal.


And here’s The Grateful Gooner’s wonderful action shot of Eboue. Looks like he was pretty high up in the stands for this photo.


But now we need to spin forward to the last few week’s worth of matches and Ras Dam gets that started with this beauty of Tomas Rosicky after the Everton match.

Arsenal vs Aston Villa

While the ever excellent Wonker has this from the Villa game.

Mikel Arteta

And Wonker adds this closeup of goal of the season candidate Mikel Arteta.


Before the match, after the match… Anyone want to go for a pint at the Tollington? Ras Dam does and I wish I could join him.

We all love The Arsenal

The “discussion” over the last few days has been, frankly, absurd. Having supporters of another club tell the readers of an Arsenal blog who they should support and how to support that club is perhaps the most sanctimonious thing I have ever read. Telling another person which sports team they should support is akin to telling a person who they should love. And worse, telling someone how to love someone else is simply insane.

The bottom line is that what makes The Arsenal one of the greatest clubs on earth is that we are a diverse club both in terms of the way that we welcome supporters from all over the world and in the way that we welcome different ways of supporting the club. Perhaps some other clubs require proof that you were born within the catchment area of the stadium or that, like a show dog, you can prove your lineage with papers, Arsenal do not.

My experience at The Arsenal is that our fellow supporters ask one simple question: do you love the club? If the answer is yes, then you’re welcome.

I could write 10,000 words with lavish examples from all of my experiences with this club but it really is that simple: we are a club because we all love The Arsenal.

End. Of.