Thomas Vermaelen flying chickens in the barnyard

Amazing comeback

Football fans often complain of press bias against their club and Arsenal supporters are no different in this regard. Perhaps this bias exists, perhaps it doesn’t, but almost certainly what does exist is a bias toward telling a good story — both the rise and the fall of that story. And with Arsenal in the midst of a run of come from behind wins, plus the remarkable near-comeback against AC Milan, the story is that it’s been a remarkable couple of weeks to be an Arsenal supporter. But hasn’t the whole season, even up until now, really just been a remarkable story?

Arsenal’s start of the season was marred by the ugly departures of Cesc and Nasri. This was quickly followed by the gutting 8-2 loss to United followed by the even more gutting 4-3 loss to Steve Keane’s Blackburn. Before you knew what was going on, Arsenal were off to their worst start in 29 years.

You had to go back to 1994-1995 to find the first instance of Arsenal having a negative goal difference in the first five games of a season. Then you had to go back to 1982-1983 to find an Arsenal side that only managed 4 points from the first five games of the season. And you had to go all the way back to 1963-1964 to find an Arsenal side that had as negative a goal difference as this team had in their first five matches.

Arsenal went into hiding and the press started picking up on other feel-good stories of the season. Newcastle were the first out of the gate with their impressive start to the season getting them up to fourth in the first five games. People started asking “Cabaye who?” presumably because they hadn’t read my column back in June but there were others on the team who impressed such as Demba Ba. It was good copy because the expectations for newly promoted Newcastle were so low.

By Halloween, Harry’s Hotspurs would take over the London press establishment and gushing reviews of Tottenham’s play coupled with Harry’s managerial style started pouring out daily. As Christmas drew near Harry moved Spurs into 3rd place, supplanting Pardew’s French side, dubbed Chateauneuf du Tyne by Phillipe Auclair, and the din over Tottenham turned to a roar.

The whipping boys this winter were both Chelsea and Arsenal. Each team trading lashes whenever they traded positions on the table from fourth to fifth. For Chelsea it was Villas Boas’ imminent canning. For Arsenal, it was the fact that they had zero viable fullbacks due to injury and yet still refused to buy.

So, by the time the transfer window snapped shut, the press reported the doomsday scenario for Arsenal: in 7th place, out of the Champions League, Robin van Persie certain to leave, no one will ever sign for a club out of Europe, Tottenham the best team in London, unrest at board meetings, fans grumbling over ticket prices, and every amateur accountant in the world trying to figure out what Arsenal’s transfer kitty is (that they wouldn’t have spent anyway).

By February, Tottenham were riding the wave of press love and Harry was being strongly linked to the England job. Then Sagna returned for Arsenal. Then Gibbs got healthy (ish) for Arsenal. Still, February was a mixed bag: beating Blackburn 7-1 to start the month, then losing to AC Milan and Sunderland in the two remaining cup competitions, then losing Per Mertesaker to serious injury while shipping Arshavin off to Siberia, and then finishing the month with a flourish by coming from a two-nil deficit against Spurs to win the game five-two.

And now Arsenal are on a high: a four game win streak, four consecutive comeback wins in the League, Tomas Rosicky looking revitalized in midfield (playing the “Arshavin position”), one point off Tottenham for third place, and even Theo Walcott’s playing well again!

It’s been a long, crazy season so far, and I don’t think anyone can honestly predict what will happen over the next ten games. But I do know this much: there are a lot of hungry teams around Arsenal at the moment who will pounce on this team the moment that they sense the handbrake has come out. Arsenal’s last ten games of the season are five home and five away: two of the home games are against top four rivals Chelsea and Man City and two of the away games are against relegation bound teams QPR and Wolves. And of course, there’s still Stoke City to play at the Shittania.

There does seem to be something incalculably different about this team at this moment. Perhaps it’s simply down to the fact that the dressing room is finally unified behind Robin van Persie’s captaincy. Whatever the reasons, long may it last. For if it does, then when the story of this season is finally written I don’t doubt for a minute that it will include the phrases “amazing comeback” and “overhauled Tottenham.”


33 thoughts on “Amazing comeback

  1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    It really has been a helluva year… now that we’ve got the record for continuous come-from-behind-victories, I say we let that one rest and work on the next record… continuous victories period.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Matt

      @JV Mauer, Agreed.

      I love come from behind wins, but I long for the good old days: when we would bury teams in the first 25 minutes.

      Then again, three points is three points is three points.

  2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Matt

    I have always liked Arshavin (“warts and all” as you put it once, Tim), and so it pains me to ask this: but does anyone thank his departure has any correlation with Arsenal’s recent renaissance?

    The timing matches up.

    It just seems like the team is a bit looser since he left. A bit tighter. With a bit more fight.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Dick Swiveller


      It’s something that’s crossed my mind, I don’t think he was particularly disliked but maybe his lack of work ethic was a little too infectious; pure conjecture but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Ox-Arshavin swapover in the squad has been pretty positive.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Tino

    “For Arsenal, it was the fact that they had zero viable fullbacks due to injury and yet still refused to buy.”

    Arsene made a massive gamble by not bringing another fullback. He has also admitted that he felt the absence of the fullbacks played a part in the dip in form in January. So my question is, if we still make the top four, was the gamble a success?

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Dick Swiveller


      I think the bigger part of the gamble was Gibbs actually staying fit, rather than an upsurge in form negating a shoddy January, so that part has been successful and finishing 3rd would probably be the best we could hope for (IF we had won all our games in January, we could have kept in touch with the two Manc teams but I doubt anyone would give talk of a title tilt credence) so, probably.

  4. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1fzza

    1 – Absolutely they need to see every game as something of a banana peel and they may slip. Seriously there is little room for slip ups on which point I would like to add that my strong feeling is the spurs slip up will occur with west brom (draw\lose), the stars are lining up for that one guys – the two potential england candidates – charry vs royson – london vs essex.

    2 – I know its unrelated but I don’t want King Kenny to leave the pool – the more they keep up the “delusions of grandeur” the less teams we will “really” be fighting….

  5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1NorCalArsenal

    Does anyone else find the row between Krul and Robin comical. It happens. It’s sports. Robin getting the last dig in and now Gutierrez says he is a bad person.
    These guys should hear what goes on in other sports. Michael Jordan was the biggest talker in sports. It’s a sport that they get payed millions of dollars to play for a living. I don’t think it makes you a “bad person” to talk a little smack. It’s part of the game and the entertainment.
    Good on Robin to show some passion and drive to win.
    Also, I believe Krul was the one way up the field continuing the argument. And if you watch the game both players made efforts to brush shoulders with each other throughout the game.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      I find it quite amusing that Gutierrez, having had teammates like Andy Carroll, Stephen Taylor and Joey Barton, sees fit to call RVP a bad person. Not just a dirty player, but a bad person. Does Robin torture kittens for fun or something?

  6. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1JimPossible

    A while ago I made a comment here about how Arsenal need to stop putting themselves in a place to make comebacks every game, and I got slammed. -6 I think is where it landed. The other day, another reader did the same thing, and even after I added a +1, he still landed with about -8.

    Now, this is just a fun blog, and we’re all entitled to an opinion, AND I know that a few select readers of a blog are not a sample group for Arsenal fans in general, but I get the feeling that anything negative to say about this group shows that we are not loyal, that we are not true fans. It’s like during the W years of the USA, between 2000-2008, if you spoke out you weren’t a patriot. If you questioned the war you hated America, you terrorist..

    I’m pleading with readers, don’t be like that. The truth is, Arsenal are giving up some dreadful goals and putting ourselves in a jam, and then showing true grit and toughness by digging ourselves out, and that’s not greatness in my opinion. I’d love to see RVP score in the last 5 minutes of a game that we are already winning. We have played lousy at times, and have shown toughness, toughness that wasn’t there awhile back. I’m not being a downer and being negative, you just can’t deny that we’ve played a solid 90 minutes during this run of comebacks. I’d rather not have to comeback each game, I’d rather take a lead and keep it and not have to claw back into the game.

    That’s just being honest about this squad.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1gsco

      @JimPossible, I think we’d all agree that we’d prefer this team to not ship a goal on our opponent’s first shot and put us in the position to have to come back. I’d love to be up 2 goals when we go to injury time. But it is really nice to see them grind out the winner over the last few games. I think it’s been a missing quality for a while. I also think it pays more dividends beyond that match. We know we can come back and the other team knows it too.
      Here’s to being 3-0 up on Everton by half time in the next game. But I won’t be surprised if it is a tight one since it is at Goodison and they are organized. Hopefully, they’ll get worn out in their FA Cup exploits this weekend. Maybe Moyes will play under strength again like he did against LPool.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      @JimPossible, I can respect that opinion, and I don’t see why it deserves to be hidden.

      Tim, may I ask why the threshold for hiding comments is so low (I believe -3 and you’re done)? I’m sincerely asking, not accusing.

      I’ve always reserved minus ratings for trolls and fans who attack each other with personal insults (of which I’ve been guilty at times, I admit).

      But Jim’s comments, and those like them, are good for debate and conversation. Wouldn’t you say?

      1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Because I don’t think “comment hidden due to low rating” is a crutch. If anything, I bet MORE people look at those comments than the others.

        How else would people know to give it a thumbs down after it gets hidden?

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        @Levi H, Yeah, that’s true. I ONLY read hidden comments.

        Oops. I guess I don’t, because I just read yours!

        I’m going to give your comment a thumbs down in the hopes that one day it may get hidden so that I can read it without shame.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        @Tim, Tim, when I saw your comment, I could only read “crotch” instead of “crutch.”

        That’s why I’m lawlzing all over the place. I mean, the comedy!

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

      @JimPossible, I think we all agree with you. We don’t want to be in the 1-0 down or 2-0 down situations. I was at Maggie McGarry’s for the NLD, and thinking “Did I wake up at 4 am and drive an hour for this?” But then of course it was all worth it, etc considering how the match ended.
      The reason why everyone is on cloud 9 is because this is exactly what has been missing so far, this is exactly what the team had been criticized for not having: the bottle. The supporters are getting exactly what they have been demanding. It’s like adding that last bit of salt or pepper to your dish and it comes out perfect, and you do a little jump for joy. I did on Monday.
      Nobody ever criticized us for being 3-0 up. So that’s why people are ecstatic and find your view a little out of place at this given time.
      Your comments are fair and voice a genuine concern. They will become appropriate if this comeback pattern continues I’m sure.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

        @Bunburyist, Glad I made your day. I know you’re giddy because of this great run we’re having.
        I means to reply to JimPossible of course, not to myself

      2. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        @Ssinderias, Of course, of course, but you mistake the cause of my “giddiness.” In fact, I’m nervous, and desperately want you to like me.

    4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Levi H

      @JimPossible, It’s really a glass half full, half empty type of situation. People are trying to stay positive. On one side, you could say that Arsenal go down 1-0, 2-0, and that is a pity. On the other hand, you could say they are doing so well because they keep coming back.

      I think most folks are just tired of negativity, and so they are trying to focus on this one positive aspect of the club. Nobody is denying that they need to stop giving up the early goal.

      So, be positive, even if accuracy is slightly compromised.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Yank Gooner MD

        @Levi H,
        Did anyone else read “and that is a pity” in Wenger’s accent in their head?
        I think there is a little AW in my head that chimes in with his catch phrases from time to time; I hope this is not a bad sign.

  7. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1NorCalArsenal

    Did chel$ki read your headline today and think it was them you were talking about?
    Good for English football to have at least one team carry-on. And hope it is enough of a distraction for them to drop points in the league.

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      @NorCalArsenal, I’m quite happy for Chelsea to continue in this competition, because a) the more this extra competition exhausts / distracts / causes injury to their best players, the better chance we have of holding them off for 4th (and yes, I know how despicable I sound), and b) who cares? They won’t win the competition anyway. Either one of Madrid, Milan, or Barcelona should finish them off at some point.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Yank Gooner MD

        Exactly good point! I felt bad for Jack making tweets about Chelski and getting absolutely killed for it. I mean the guy is a young Englishmen, he is going to be the next big name for England once this “old guard” is retired. Anyways, I wish he would cool it on the “Come on you Blues” comments, but I can appreciate his English pride. I was torn myself in who to root for. I of course detest our Western neighbors and want them to fail at everything, but they are old and having an extra match to play and more pressure to pile on could possibly be to our advantage. I mean who gives them a chance in hell of making the final? There’s no way with their current form.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Levi H

        @Yank Gooner MD, When I lived in England, I must admit, I was preferential to English clubs in European matches. Well, except for Manchester United, I wanted them to lose at every opportunity. Now, that was several years ago, long before the EPL, when clubs were not so capable of spending millions on a whim. I now have developed such animosity I don’t even support the English team, and I pull heavily for the opponent of any EPL club in European competition. Regardless, I’m a yank now, and I have a bracket to fill out.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    Believe it or not–my Malaysian friend said that the inconsistency of teams like us & Chelsea & Milan & Napoli is due to the influence of betting syndicates. The more unpredictable the results the more attractive matches are to betting fans….

    HaHa! Teams are like chameleons this season….

    What I do know is that when you grind out results and have last minute winning goals, you would have spent more energy, both physical & psychological & emotional, than a 1-sided game, win or lose. I hope there won’t be a sudden drop in energy and intensity level in the remaining games now that the boys have enough time to rest….

    Now that we play 4-3-3 with Song & Arteta in midfield, only Rosicky will burst into the penalty box to shoot, or pick up the loose balls. Theo & Gervinho are hopeless in this respect.
    Hence, you find that we don’t have enough bodies inside the box when a cross comes in. If TV5 did not burst his lungs running into the box, no one will pick up that loose ball and bang it in.
    Only Reckless Gibbs will play as a winger that far up in the opposite 18-yd box; Sagna usually stops at 18 yd and cross. He rarely goes straight to the bottom line to cross. Maybe it is because he is always prepared to run back in case we lose the ball or the cross fails.

    Now that we put in more crosses from both flanks, we need more bodies into the box. Ramsay?

    Perhaps next time, we should try playing Ger & Theo on both flanks, with Rosicky, Song & the Ox in midfield. the Ox should be a good fox in the box…

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Yank Gooner MD

      I don’t know about that. watch again
      Gervinho is right there to knock that it if TV5 had whiffed or hadn’t been there. Now with Gerv’s current form it is not 100% that he would have taken it, but I’m pretty sure he would have been able to reach that ball b4 Krul.

  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1richie gooner

    @jim poosible
    although what you say is right, there is nothing like the feeling of getting a last minute winner…trust me, i was in the northbank behind the goal, and we all went absolutely bonkers….and it give everyone such a massive lift,that we feel unstoppable for 3rd place

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