My 9 hour flight from Seattle to London was saved by one thing: It’s Up For Grabs Now, the Arsenal Podcast. Typically, I can while away the hours watching some sort of interesting film or documentary but this time the people in charge of entertainment decided instead to fill the log with Vince Vaughn and Robin Williams.
Fortunately, I thwarted their plan to make me go stir crazy by bringing along an iPod with 17 episodes of the ups and downs that have transpired since Alan Davies, Tayo, Ian and friends first sat down in front of a microphone and a mixing board with a can of lager.
I made it through most of the back catalog and for those of you who haven’t had a chance to listen, you should. It’s an irreverent take on Arsenal’s season from several supporters who genuinely love Arsenal. Before you take the piss out of me for what looks like an oxymoron, listen to the show.
The rest of the trip has been really nice I have to say. I have never been harassed by the customs folks, except that one time I said I was here for an Arsenal match and the guy asked me 100 questions. Check in at the hotel was a breeze and honestly, my only complaint is that this hotel doesn’t have real ale on tap. I could always go one block down the street to the Cornwallis if I was really desperate!
The Cornwallis seems like it’s pretty much the only thing that hasn’t changed. I went to the Virgin Mobile store to top up my phone and they have been replaced by someone else, who wants £20 for their cheapest phone (fuck THAT.) I need to find a Virgin store and top this bad boy up so that I can call people who want to get a hold of me. In the mean-time, the blog or twitter are the best ways to reach me.
Anyway, there’s plenty of time for ale when I make a Friday night jaunt out to some of the local boozers. Here in a little bit I’m going to head to Pickpocket Circus for a pint, right now, there’s some Arsenal stuff to get to.
Wenger gave his presser and contrary to what I’ve been reading in the papers he was actually quite sanguine about the Ramsey tackle. Arsene talked about basically ignoring the others and how Arsenal need to keep promoting the values and type of football that we have been playing and espousing for the last 5 years.
Moreover, his take on tackling is a rational and sane one; we all like a good tackle, it’s an art form. As Alan Davies pointed out in his last podcast, Sol Campbell has been the best center back in the EPL for the last 20 years and he has never broken a leg. Because he doesn’t leave his feet and wildly attack his opponent at the half way line the way Ryan Shawcross, Martin Taylor and so many others do in the EPL. It’s not a hot-headed reaction, it’s not a call for the EPL to ban contact as many have said, and it’s not a condemnation of the character of these footballers (though with Shawcross having broken two legs in two years and being this year’s most yellow-carded center back, some have rightly questioned the guy). It’s a call for a little bit of skill to be re-introduced to defending, rather than just battering your opponent.
Another oft targeted player for Arsenal this season has been Theo Walcott. I remember hearing it from my Spurs supporting friend that he thought Walcott was worse than Aaron Lennon, two years ago, and now it seems like every tWaddle in England thinks it’s right to spout the same thing. That’s how this stupidity spreads: some Spud says something anti-Arsenal and suddenly it’s taken as the word of God.
Walcott’s young and right now he’s had a horrible few months coming back from a season of injuries. He did score a hat-trick against Croatia what seems like ages ago and I remember some of us back then wishing he hadn’t because it was just going to heap pressure on him. Nothing pressurizes a player like the weight of English expectation. I almost wish they would win a World Cup just so we could hear the end of it for 4 years.
But here’s the thing, Walcott is missing something right now, granted, but some of the plays he’s made in his career are just instinctive: Bendtner doesn’t have that, but Eduardo, Theo, and van Persie do. I’m telling you, watch the old footage, the kid is special, let’s all remember how some of us booed Eboue and called for Song to be sacked last year. Theo needs some time and thankfully Arsene’s going to give it.
Which brings me to Aaron Ramsey… I actually had the forethought to bring my digital video camera and I’m glad I did. It’s a small one and I’m going to see if I can get it into the Arsenal v. Burnley match because tomorrow is going to be a really special day. REDaction is an Arsenal supporter’s club and they are planning to unfurl a special Aaron Ramsey tribute banner at tomorrow’s match. The whole stadium will be singing “there’s only one Aaron Ramsey” tomorrow and I really hope to get it on video so that all of you can share in the celebration of this really special talent and wish for his speedy recovery.
The injury update from today is that Denilson, Eduardo, and most importantly, Diaby have all been passed fit for tomorrow’s match. Diaby is a huge boost to this team, his work, skill, and size in the midfield have been a revelation at times this season. I’m looking forward to a midfield of Diaby, Song, and Cesc tomorrow.
At the back, the conspiracy theorists will have a talking point as Sol Campbell has been ruled out with a groin problem. Wenger thinks he’ll be OK for Tuesday but with Gallas out now with yet another injury, Wenger has no choice but to rely on Silvestre and Vermaelen to do the work.
Right, I’m getting thirsty, so this is going to have to be your lot. Feel free to fill us in on what I missed in the comments, I’m counting on you kickers!
if you’re in town and you want to meet up with me I’m headed to the St. James Tavern in Piccadilly. I should be there within the hour (say, 6pm GMT). It’s a horrible place, in a really un-quaint part of town, but what can I say, nostalgia takes me back. Fingers crossed it’s still open!
(Sigh) I love London…