Author Archives: Tim

About Tim

I'm the gaffer, I gaff things. I also make a lot of gaffs. Follow me on twitter @7amkickoff.

Dan Smith

Scary Halloween Costume Ideas

Johan Djourou Arsenal Deadwood Testimonial Player
Djourou looks like a muppet, seriously, like one of Jim Henson's creations
Gael Clichy/Andrei Arshavin Tandem Defensive Duo
I can has Arshavin?
Tottenham Hotspur DVD
Highlight of the era
Ashley Cole Car Crash Victim
Rectum? He nearly Killed em!
Guy Arguing With Someone on the Internet that Denilson is not a Bad Midfielder
Dude, he made 73 of 73 passes, I don't care if they are all 2 foot passes, that's incredible
Racist Zombie Luis Suarez
suarez-teeth
Dan Smith
Dan Smith
The Fabled Arsenal Handbrake
hbrake_03
Arsene Wenger’s Jacket
arsene-wenger-jacket
Alexis Sanchez in a Knee Brace with a Season Ending Injury
alexis-sanchez
Cesc Fabregas in a Chelsea Kit
Fabregas-new

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Qq

 

With chitinous hands I type

This could be a cut up. It could just be notes. It’s probably just the ramblings of a man in the throes of Arsenal fever.

I feel a little like Kurtz. I spend none of my time reading the modern newspapers. I spend almost no time at all on the news of the day and even less time on the news of Arsenal’s day. It is both liberating and imprisoning: I am free to pursue what I want and yet bound by the limits of my own imagination. Unlike Kurtz, I hope that I don’t become corrupted in my little kingdom. Also, the Kurtz analogy is horrible because, well, because the Belgian genocide in the Congo is not something I want to be associated with.

Perhaps I’m more like Gregor. Transformed into a hideous cockroach I sit alone in my room, pounding out letters on my keyboard with my chitinous paws.

I have spent my time in this room living in the past. I have read nearly every interview of Arsène Wenger from his first year at Arsenal. Reading these newspaper clippings from 1997 is fascinating in the way that Gregor was probably in awe at his antennae. How could you not be enthralled by the narrative the British press built up that Arsenal were a dirty team? How could you not smile a bit when they used the word “polyglot” 18 times in the first year? And how could you not stop and wonder for a moment when you read Wenger say:

We are not a dirty side but a fair side. This game is about physical contact. I want positive aggression. If you’re too soft you don’t win many games.

What happened to that Wenger? Was he just protecting Vieira? Doesn’t that seem like too simple an answer? Why was the press in England back then complaining that Arsenal lacked discipline and yet now don’t complain about teams who still regularly top the yellow card list? Why are Arsenal still one of the most red-carded teams in the League? Is it all just a giant conspiracy against Arsene Wenger? A 20 year plan, meted out by dozens of referees, officials, ball boys, managers, and players? Is it just something that happens, that a narrative set in motion 18 years ago gains a certain momentum and can never be stopped?

I also look at the recent history. The games from this year. I am compiling the goals from these matches into a database and then trying to figure out how I’m going to make this visually interesting. Here’s the boring database part…

Timeline 1ScorersCan you tell what I’m doing?

I’m eating paste. That’s what cockroaches eat. Disgusting, isn’t it?

I promise that you will not be bored this week, even if you skip the regular Arsenal news. I will do a Footballistically Speaking tomorrow. Jonathan Blaustein has his match day photo of the month column soon.* There’s a match preview from Naveen. And I could LITERALLY publish 5 things from Les (he’s been working his chitin to the nubs, I tell you).

I have swimming tonight. Hopefully my swim instructor doesn’t notice that I am a giant bug.

Qq

*Hey… if you want to be a part of this, just send your photos to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com — Jonathan is a funny guy, he’ll make you internet famous!

boring

Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal: Cheetos and Tequila

I had a girl
She loved what she saw
She loved me so good
She made her daddy mad
My woman cried
She’s dead to me now
My woman ran off
And I can’t deny it

My life
Jesus (Cheetos) and tequila
I’m satisfied
And I can’t deny it

Arsenal left Belgium with a sack full of goodies and all three points as the London team pipped Anderlecht at the death in a surprisingly equal match between two teams with vastly different resources and pedigrees.

Anderlecht came in to the match with nothing to lose. Widely seen as one of the minnows of Champions League play, the Belgians would need to put in a hard fought 90 minutes if they were going to get anything from an Arsenal team who spent as much money acquiring players this summer as the entire Anderlecht club is worth. To their great credit, Anderlecht not only gave Arsenal a fair but physical match, they also matched Arsenal skill for skill for the majority.

Anderlecht could easily feel hard done by considering the fact that Arsenal’s winning goal came moments after a deliberate handball by late sub and game winner, Lukas Podolski. I can tell you that had Arsenal conceded that goal under those exact circumstances with that exact handball preceding it, there would be smartly written letters of complaint filling UEFA’s mail slot tomorrow morning.

As it stands, these self-same arbiters of fairness will likely dismiss the handball as incidental, inconsequential, or (worse) something Arsenal “deserve” because it rights the ills they perceive Arsenal to have suffered. As if a handball allowed against a team like Anderlecht, who have done nothing wrong against Arsenal, somehow makes up for Everton’s lucky offside call in the Premier League.

In the end though Arsenal’s quality in depth, in depth against a tiny team like Anderlecht, won the day as Lukas Podolski found the ball near him and in an #aha moment, scored.

Gibbs had a fantastic match. Not only did he score the equalizer off a difficult volley from Chambers’ cross but he also made nine of twelve tackles for Arsenal defensively. Highlighting Gibbs’ astounding work rate both in going forward and in sprinting back. With Gibbs forward so often and yet still able to sprint back for a tackle deep in the Arsenal defense, I wondered what part sprints (sprints which Arsenal players do more than other teams by my perception) by Arsenal players play in Arsenal’s history of muscle injuries? Could it be that Arsenal’s system, playing so many forward at all times, constantly pressing for the win and being forced to sprint back on defense as they wildly try to catch up to the opposition’s counters, could that be the reason for so many of these stress injuries?

I don’t have an answer to that. I do know that those twelve Gibbs tackles show how concerted the Anderlecht effort was in targeting Nacho and Gibbs. Anderlecht attempted 36 dribbles and 10 of them were concentrated in Gibbs’ corner compared to just 6 in Chambers’ corner.

Anderlecht found a goal out of that effort when Dennis Praet dribbled around the Arsenal defense, pulled both Arsenal center backs out and then put in a cross right to the penalty spot. Calumn Chambers was caught between Najar and the ball for a second and that was all the Anderlecht man needed to score.

The Belgian side were right back at the Arsenal gates a few seconds later and they should have equalized when Anthony Vanden Borre struck the post from a dangerous position. Once again Najar was free down Gibbs’ side (he started the attack that he finished for their first goal) and once again played in Praet.

With Monreal playing left back again (there are no defensive midfielders covering the fullbacks on this Arsenal team) Najar was able to cross to Praet who literally caught Per flat footed. The young Praet heard die Fledermaus playing in his ear, waltzed past Per, and slid a ball to Vanden Borre who was wide open just outside the 6 yard box. Instead of coolly side footing into the goal, Vanden Borre opened up his sand wedge and hit a lob which struck the upright.

If the Belgians had scored the second, it could have been a body blow to the this Arsenal side. Both Anderlecht goals came after Arsenal left their foot off the gas as you can see from my twitter timeline which captured the sense of both boredom and shock:

boring

 

There is a connection between this “boring Arsenal” and the “ohshit Arsenal”. This Arsenal team still think they are the possession-based team who used to be able to kill off games with a string of 100 “ole” passes, but when the central midfielders are pressed by the opposition forwards they cough the ball up too easily in dangerous areas and are often caught with their defenders in advance of the forwards. Many times in this game both of Arsenal’s wide defenders, Calumn Chambers and Keiran Gibbs, were in front of their forwards at the same time.

It’s a huge gamble to constantly send your fullbacks forward, and an even bigger gamble to send them both forward at the same time when your only cover is Mathieu Flamini pacing around the midfield. But however you look at it, the bet paid off.

Like a slot machine, if you feed enough quarters into its voracious maw it will eventually get too full and spit something back out. So too Gibbs’ station as the most forward player on the left. It should be noted that the gamble was “all in” as well, down to their last quarter, Arsenal’s right back, Calumn Chambers, put in the cross which Gibbs volleyed home.

My first trip to London I went to one of those casino/clubs. It was late. I was drunk. And naturally, I started losing heavily. I was down to my last few pounds and I wandered away from the Blackjack table and put the rest of my money on a single number in Roulette. The number came up and from that point on my night was all trumps. I went back over to the Blackjack table and proceeded to win back all my money plus enough money to pay for all my food for the week.

I left the casino with a fat wallet and full of cheer having gone from thinking I’ll be eating Cheetos the rest of the week to planning a steak dinner. That’s how gambling works: a little luck and you feel like you’re on top of the world.

Arsenal won the game at Anderlecht with some similar gambles. All in with Calumn Chambers and Gibbs and then a little lucky double down when Wenger subbed in Podolski who got away with some slight of hand to score the winner. To get all three points Arsenal needed professional and hard-working players on the pitch, and Alexis Sanchez continues to impress in that regard. A team high 4 key passes, all of them in dangerous areas and any one of which probably should have scored, finally got rewarded when Podolski scored.

Sanchez-Praet

 

In the end, Anderlecht matched Arsenal for ninety minutes. They didn’t play using negative tactics or ugly timewasting. They didn’t rely on the referee to bail them out and didn’t run around booting Arsenal players into Row Z. They don’t have an Oligarch spending more money than god on star players from abroad and instead they are a small team with a humble stadium filled to the rafters with exuberant fans singing “Come on Sporting Boys!” to the tune of Cum on Feel the Noize.

Yet Arsène’s roll of the dice paid off and after the match Arsenal fans pocketed their winnings and gleefully went off into the night in search of Cheetos and Tequila. They even had a little money left over to get Arsène a birthday cake.

So satisfied.

Qq