Category Archives: Tim in London

Oh London, the more you change, you still remain the same

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 I went to the Virgin Mobile store to top up my phone and they have been replaced by someone else, who wants £20 for their cheapest phone (fuck THAT.)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…

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go

  • Passport
  • Vouchers
  • English money
  • American money
  • England cell phone
  • American cell phone
  • Camera
  • Charger
  • 220 -> 110 adapter
  • 7 pairs of underwear

I could go on but I’ll spare you the gory details. The point is that by 3pm (GMT) Friday I’ll be in London England and that’s the next time you’ll hear from me. In fact, my Friday blog might even be a little late for most Americans because I land at noon (4am PST), go through customs (English customs are much nicer than American) take the train in, get settled, do my research (basically just watch Wenger’s press conference!), and write the blog. In fact, it’ll probably be more like 10am kickoff for my American readers.

From there on out things will go by pretty quickly; Saturday’s blog will be a recap of Friday night in London, Sunday a recap of the Burnley game, Monday a free blog, Tuesday the Porto match preview, and Wednesday will be a quick recap of the Porto match before I fly back to the States.

As for Saturday, several of us are meeting up before the Burnley match and if you want to get in on that action drop me a line using the Contact Me form. Hell, if you’re living in London and you go see Arsenal matches you’ll probably just bump into me in one of the usual places, but you know, some people like to make sure.

I did include a couple of tips for the traveler in my list above; you kinda need two cell phones and you need some foreign currency before you leave. When I was there two years ago I bought a cheap phone and I just get a new chip or “top up” when I get there. It’s cheaper and easier than unlocking your USA phone (or comparable) IF your phone and company will let you.

As for currency exchange, I get some money through Bank of America before I leave. They have the best rates and it’s really simple, I just order some cash online and they deliver it to my local branch. You can use your credit cards over there, though you need to tell the company that you’re going to be in England or they will put a lock on your card after the first transaction, but you have to be careful because each transaction will have a fee from your bank, from their bank, and pretty much everyone else will try to get a hand in on the transaction.  So, while it’s true that you can get a really favorable exchange rate by just using your card over there, the fees can offset that rate pretty quickly. Basically, I use the card just for any big purchases I make or to get more cash.

Anyway, that stuff is boring!

In just a little over two days, I’ll be in the Emirates stadium where supporters are going to unveil a huge banner in honor of Aaron Ramsey. There won’t be a dry eye in the house, I suspect.

Right, signing off now. See you on the other side of the pond.

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

fuzzy

Well, this is it, I leave for the mecca here in a little over 12 hours. The bag is all packed, I’m well rested (read not hungover) and I’m going to head in to work to tie up a few loose ends, get in a workout, drive to the airport, and then sit around for 4 hours waiting for the plane to take off. 17 hours later, if all things go as planned, I’ll be in London, enjoying the fresh air, drizzly rain, insane drivers, and a pint of my favorite real ale.

One administrative note, I typically publish the blog around 7am PST (3pm GMT) so due to the time difference and length of flight, tube to London, checkin time, and the fact that I’ll be drinking straight away,  means I probably won’t publish a blog tomorrow. I’ll try, but no guarantees and if I do it will be a late blog. In fact, my American reader will get the blog “late” every day, my English reader early, and my Asian reader — well, I’d need to do a combination function and complete the square to figure out what time he will get the post. Gods only know what time my Antipodean reader gets these things, it’s like 3 days time difference down there isn’t it? And if you flush time down the toilet it actually goes the wrong way or something. The point is that after this post, things are going to change for a few days.

Right, on to the news!

My loyal reader knows that I never link to articles from The World’s Least Reliable News Source (The Sun). I don’t care if they fit my world view at the moment or not, that paper is scum and I won’t even give them the pleasure of the few paltry hits I generate. Anyway, they are reporting that they got an exclusive interview with Eduardo and that he’s still waiting for an apology directly from Martin Taylor over the incident at Birmingham. Taylor, to his credit, has somehow managed to avoid giving the apology and has even found time in his busy schedule as a father of three/university student/footballer to give a rather long interview to the press about how bad it’s been, for him, over the last year.

Get f*cked, Taylor. If you want to apologize, I’m sure Arsenal will arrange a public or private meeting with Eduardo — your choice. Irregardless, whatever you do, shut.thef*ck.up. No one, NO ONE, wants to hear your sob story. You’re not a hero to anyone. The best thing you could do with your life is apologize in person, like a man, and then refuse to comment on the issue ever again.

Jesus.

The other big story is, of course, THE IMPENDING DOOM OF THE CLUB WHEN USMANOV TAKES OVER!!!

I just want to point out a couple of things here. First, yes, Usmanov is not the type of person I want associated with the team. At all. I wish he never bought shares in the club, but since they are on the open market there’s little we can do about that.

Second, the fact that this is happening at all is simply a function of the amount of money Arsenal are currently worth. The board instability, the fact that this guy is coming out of nowhere and gobbling up shares, the fact that David Dein sold his shares, etc., all of it is about money. Arsenal went from a club worth several million dollars to a club worth several billion dollars. Moreover, Arsenal’s growth and profits have been extraordinarily stable over the last 10 years. If you throw in the fact that Arsenal is the only club in the Premier League who have positive cash flow and a bright future filled with young stars like Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, you have to say that in times of financial instability like now, Arsenal look like a great place to stash some of your fortune.

Which brings me to the last point: I don’t think that Usmanov wants anything but profit from the team, basically, I firmly believe that Usmanov is a tick. He’s going to hitch a ride, drain a little blood (he’ll probably ask for dividends soon) from the club, and right before he bursts (when he feels the stock price has reached it’s zenith) he’ll drop off and we’ll never see him again.

No one likes ticks, they are gross and carry disease (I got syphilis from a tick, I swear it was tick, or maybe the toilet seat) but at least they aren’t a pack of c*nts who know nothing about football and want to treat the club as if it was their life-size version of Football Manager — or worse, the Abramovich model of turning the club into a piggy bank.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s going to be damaging to the club. With 25% of the shares he now has the ability to interfere with board decisions, make demands (like dividends), and generally be a nuisance but the one thing we can count on is that The Tick (as he shall henceforth be known) doesn’t want to kill the host. It’s worth too much money to him to keep us alive and ticking over. The last thing he wants is fan unrest, team unrest, and Arsene unrest (it would drive down the value of his stock) so he’s going to do small things to extract profit rather than big things that destroy the club.

No one wants a tick on them, but at least he’s not likely to saddle the club with $1.5 BILLION in debt which in a few years will just break the club. So, while it’s gross that he’s burrowing in, it’s hardly financial Armageddon. By all means, let his holding company know that we don’t want a tick on us, that he’s gross, but let’s not freak out over the deal. I’m saving the freak out for when I find out he gave us Lupus.

Now I feel like I need a shower and someone to check me for ticks.

Oh hey, one last thing… I saw this video of the latest “Next Zidane” and thought you all might get a kick (HA!) out of it. He’s only 6 but word on the street is that he’ll be making his Arsenal debut on Saturday.

Ok, now I’m off, wish me luck and I’ll see you all tomorrow (morning, afternoon, mid-day, in a fortnight).