Stoke me a Clipper

And so it is that we come to the last day of the season and find ourselves hosting the club that most embodies all that went wrong with Arsenal this year.

It was a fiery match with Stoke, who will finish the season as the dirtiest team in the league, accused by Arsene Wenger of kicking Arsenal off the pitch. Which they certainly did, but it was set plays and not kicks that won that encounter. Rory Delap was in such fine form on that day and Arsenal so incapable of dealing with set plays that Delap nearly threw one straight into the net! So, yes, they kicked us, but that’s not what won.

It was also a game which saw baffling lineups from the boss, a petulant red card to Robin van Persie, a lazy game from Cesc and Adebayor, and injuries to Ade and Theo. In short, if was the type of disastrous outcome that at least one Gooner was quoted saying

Untill we aquire a world class goalkeeper two world class defenders and a world class midfielder we aint going anywhere. (sic)

It’s actually quite a spectacular rant and I know many people felt the same way after that match.

I think we’ve had some distance from that match and I think we’ve achieved quite a bit more than that one result might haved indicated. So, I’d be surprised if many Gooners still feel the same way. Even the boss sent Tony Pulis a note, not quite apologizing for calling Stoke cheats, but sort of forgiving them and by way of saying that he understands why they played the way they played. For most teams between 10th and 20th place, the name of the game is survival and they will do just about anything to ensure it.

Survival ensured. 4th place secured.

I doubt this will be a fiery match like the previous. 

But it’s the last match of the season and maybe Stoke will want to do the double over us, who knows?  Hell, who cares?

Evra is a loudmouthed pussy

I love that Evra is complaining to the press about Fabregas’ tackle on him. I think he should be happy that Flamini wasn’t still on the squad, he knew how to put in a tackle whenever a Man U player decided to publicly act like an ass.

Voting still ongoing

Remember, you only have until 11:45pm PST to vote for your Gooner of the Year! Get over there and DO IT.

P.S.

Yes I mailed this in, which is pretty much what I’m expecting from Arsenal today.

"We are that good" — plus "don't forget the poll"

Arsenal won the league by 25 points, losing only twice, and last night defeated Liverpool 4-1 in the First leg of the FA Cup final. It was a masterful performance, from what I hear, and though it was broadcast on Setanta in England the match wasn’t available here in the states so, I didn’t get a chance to watch. You’ll have to be satisfied with Gunnerblog’s description above.

Of course, I’m talking about the future and the present all at the same time: I’m talking about the Arsenal Youth team. You’ve seen some of them already, young Jack Wilshere was electrifying in the Carling Cup wins against Sheffield United and Wigan, on the backs of those performances a few folks asked why he wasn’t being brought in to the first team when we were missing some creativity during the depths of darkest winter.

And after putting Liverpool’s youth to the sword with a 4-1 win young Jack Wilshere agreed with those fans saying

I think any of us can break into the first team because we are all that good. We’ve all got talent and we know we can push into the first team.

I, for one, can’t wait to see them play in next year’s Carling Cup. Hell, we might even see some in league play, if they as good as young Wilshere thinks they are.

As the youth team were running Liverpool off the pitch Arsene Wenger gave what I thought was his most defensive pre-match presser of the season.

FINALLY, SOME DEFENSE!

The truth is that Wenger is kind of a complicated guy and you’re probably seeing a lot of weird quotes this morning, like “Wenger tells board to Shut-Up” but reading the interviews in the press and watching them on Arsenal TV are two different things. I highly recommend the latter, you get a sense of the man, and how sometimes he says things with a glint in his eye and you just know he’s being cheeky. Of course, the press then de-contextualize it and plaster headlines like the one above (actual headline) but the truth is more complicated than just a one-liner.

This press conference was pretty much dominated by the question of transfers. How much do we have, why doesn’t he spend it, will we have to sell to buy, who is he targeting, and many other questions. The boss responded to the ‘how much’ question with my favorite quote of the night

If I tell you I have £250million, every player I call will cost three times more. When I am manager of a club I do with what I have available and you have never heard me complain about the money that was available. But as well I do not accept people to think that I am stupid enough to have £100million at my disposal and put it in the bank because I am scared to spend it.

He said £100m!! That’s like, like, the magic number!

On it’s face, this is one of those statements that confuse a lot of supporters. It looks like he’s saying that Arsenal don’t have £100m when the financial statements that the club released last season clearly show that they do. This is one of those statements that make Arsenal supporters shake their head and ask if Wenger has lost the plot? Doesn’t he read the financial statements?

Of course he does! Please note that if you parse the statement he says “at my disposal” which, not to put too fine a point on it is exactly what I’ve been saying since I found out they have the money: they are reserving that cash for an emergency. What if they can’t make 4th place next year due to Swine Plague ravaging the team at a critical juncture? What if newly re-promoted Birmingham and Martin Taylor break 4 player’s legs this year?

What if the housing market takes a turn for the worse, the banks call in their loan on the Highbury development, the economy goes further south, fans stop showing up to matches, people don’t buy that stupid blue kit, and injuries prevent us from taking 4th place?

It would be nice to have £130m (my estimate of this year’s year end financials) in the bank if that happened, in fact, it would be crucial for a self sustaining club like Arsenal to have a large amount of cash around just in case something like that happened. The only other option is to go to scum like Usmanov with our hat in our hand.

No one wants that.

So, I think Wenger’s being coy, watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. There’s money to spend, he just doesn’t want to say how much or it will adversely effect the cost of transfer targets and I feel like he cheekily threw out the £100m figure to get the ire of people not paying close attention.

I, for one, hope he gets cracking on spending what he’s got, Fulham’s already offered Hangeland more Brede to stay and we don’t want to let one of the few players out there who has the experience and size to truly help this team slip through our fingers.

That’s about it for today, tomorrow’s match is on Setanta at like noon or something and some of us are going down to Doyle’s to watch it after the morning kickaround. Before I go, I want to remind you all that you have just two more days to vote for the Gooner of the Year so get over there and get stuck in you lot!

Until tomorrow!

UPDATE

Highlights of the FA Youth Cup here.

You get to vote for this year's Gooner of the Year Awards (The GOY's)

Last year, I did a series of five articles, over five days, each dedicated to who I thought the top five Arsenal players were. It was fun but I thought I’d change it up a bit this year.

This year, you all will decide who you think the top five Gooners were, using the poll in this article, and I will write an article for each player, detailing why their season was so outstanding.

Voting will last until Sunday at midnight, then I will take down the poll and assemble the results and present them with the first article on Monday detailing the number 5 Gooner.

Also, comments in the thread below will be used in my analysis, so please justify your choices.

Finally, please note, the WordPress polling system sucks ass AND all the other polls I found suck ass so I had to use an external polling system, which I’m unable to embed in this page because WordPress doesn’t like competition.

So, if you want to vote, click on this link.

If you just want to make loud noises, feel free to do so below!