All my troubles seemed so far away…

In the land of the blind, the one one eyed man is king

All season long it seems like all of us have been looking back while Arsene Wenger, the iconoclast, refused to look into the past and instead steadily gazed into the future. In our obsession with the past, Wenger recons we got this season wrong and once again I find myself realizing that the teacher may have been right all along.

Arsenal started the season off by looking back to the famous win at Anfield in 1989. A win that so permeates Arsenal’s collective psyche that books have been written about the journey toward that one, glorious night. The club were gearing up for this year’s trip to 1989 as far back as last year by giving away copies of Nick Hornby’s book along with a bottle opener that played audio from the famous final moments of that game. Then, this season Arsenal ponied up and created a special away shirt in commemoration of that win, a special supporters pack with video of the game, a tie in product line, and then proceeded to nearly give them all away for free in a half-off effort that would assure people would be wearing the famous yellow and blue for years to come. It makes sense to look back at that game, I still get chills when I watch the final moments of that improbable 2-0 win that secured the title. Thomas, charging through the midfield indeed.

And during the summer as players jumped ship, we fans still refused to look into the future. Wringing our hands about the departure of Flamini and Gilberto and steadfastly holding out that players from the past, like Stephen Appiah, were the only way to right the listing ship. To paraphrase Wenger from yesterday’s press conference, if after the disastrous first 5 Premiership games of the season he’d have said that Alex Song would become a world class holding midfielder and that Arsenal would be on the cusp of another Champions League final berth “You would have called an ambulance.” Our belief was low because we were looking at the past, at players like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira and teams like the invincibles, or even just at the season prior, while Arsene Wenger belief was seemingly irrationally high because he was looking forward, at the potential of players like Alex Song and Carlos Vela.

And even now, all the sports writers in the world are looking into Arsenal’s past in order to try to decipher what will happen today. Why not? After all, it’s comforting to look at Arsene Wenger’s record in Europe or his record against Man U and try to see a pattern there that will tell the story of today. Too bad no one told Arsene Wenger, he holds out that he’s never even watched a tape of their Champions League final loss at Barcelona.

In the midst of this orgy of nostalgia a funny thing happened to this Arsenal team; they started believing the stuff that Wenger is selling. They stopped looking at the past and they started believing in themselves, in the supporters, and in Wenger’s future. If you’ll permit me a bit of nostalgia about the season, once the belief took hold they have since gone on an improbable 21 match unbeaten streak, they won on penalties against Roma… at Roma… by hitting every penalty after an injured Eduardo missed the first, they overcame an horrific injury to Eduardo and an injury plagued season, and just 6 days ago they held on for an incredible 1-0 defeat against Man U despite missing half of their first team stars and relying on 19 year olds and written-off goalkeepers¬† for heroics.

Did Wenger see all that happening? Not specifically, but I think he believed in the team enough that he thought something like that might happen. Even that is pretty incredible if you think about it and makes me look at the way I criticized the team and the way I look at the future of this team in a whole new light.

You’ve heard me say how no matter what happens today I’m proud to be an Arsenal supporter. Arsenal have nothing to lose today: Man U are the defending champions, they have the 1-0 lead, they outplayed Arsenal on Wednesday last week, they spend irrationally big (supposedly offering ¬£63m for Frank Ribery) and their prawn sandwich brigade have irrationally high expectations of their club. Win or lose, I just want to see a full blooded performance from Arsenal and I have no doubt that they will play their hearts out.

After all, they are not looking back, they’re all looking forward.

I’m home sick today, and my daughter is sick too so I’ll be watching Arsenal from the comfort of my couch and in High Definition on ESPN2. I could probably live blog but I doubt I’ll do it, just because I don’t want to spend my time chatting here and would rather just enjoy the game.

I encourage all of you to do the same: get a beer, get on the strip, and enjoy the day. What do you have to lose?

Correction re: Arsenal Supporter's Trust

My regular reader knows that I readily admit when I’m wrong. So, without further ado I will just say that yesterday I was wrong when I lumped the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust (AST) in with the Kroenke come lately’s. As it turns out, I was thinking of a particular interview with Nigel Phillips and Tim Payton in which they actually ask measured questions of Kroenke, rather than my memory of the interview, which was simply wrong.

I really should have known better as the AST is a loyal organization that only ever has Arsenal’s best at heart and always speaks in very measured tones.

Unlike this blogger.

So, my apologies to them and I enourage my reader to check out their organization in the link above.

Getting Down to Business

Joey Christ Pose

Arsenal’s players and coaches are a little over 24 hours away from the biggest game in their young careers and yet, it’s the business end of the club that’s receiving all of the press.

As I reported on Saturday, Stan Kroenke is now the largest, no wait, the mostest shareholder having purchased some 4,000 shares from the Carr family and pushing his total up to just over 28%. How all this happened I’m not sure, but I do know that however that transaction occured it ticked off Arsenal’s largest, no wait, fattest shareholder and he reported the transaction to some kind of board (the takeover panel) that I’ve never heard of.

It reminds me of this one guy who was going to go to the prom with this hot chick and then at the last minute she called and said she was going to go with the star football player and you’re left holding a ton of shares that you paid a ton of money for.¬† Something like that. Anyway, it makes sense that he’d pursue legal action; he is essentially the jilted lover here. So, the courts will suss it out and everything and there isn’t much we can do.

I do want to mention, however, how funny it is that places like Arseblog and the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust were firmly against Stan Kroenke (HA HA SATAN KROENKE!!!) buying into the club, until they got a load of who else might try to buy Arsenal. I’m sure this is mostly down to the fact that Kroenke was duped by Dein in the early days but it’s still interesting how pretty much everyone is now firmly in the American’s corner. Kroenke, as it turns out, is a huge Arsenal supporter and will be good for the club. Just look at what he’s done with the web site, that’s what he’ll do with the Arsenal; update it, while keeping the heart of the team firmly rooted in Arsenal’s history.

Now, if only he could do something about the rumored green kits…

Meanwhile, Setanta is edging closer to going out of business. My regular reader knows that I make fun of Setanta but the reality is that I like having choices and if Setanta goes out of business I’m afraid we will lose choices. Before Setanta came along Americans got to watch Arsenal whenever Fox Soccer Channel wanted to let us watch them, or if we bought a match over PPV. But since Setanta got in on the action I’ve basically, over the last several years, had the fortune to watch pretty much every single Arsenal game. If Setanta goes away I’m afraid that priviledge will go away as well. We’ll have to see how Fox handles the new contracts they won, but if Setanta can’t make all those games pay, I wonder if Fox will be able to?

Finally, I have a little Arsenal America business to attend to. Some of you may know that I am the Seattle rep for Arsenal America. As the Seattle rep, I’ve been asked to take an accounting of the local supporters here in the PNW. So, if you’re a local (live in the Seattle/Tacoma area) and an Arsenal supporter, please send me an email (bostelle at gmail) so I can get an account of how many Arsenal supporters we have in our region. You don’t have to be a member of Arsenal America, just a local.

THANKS!

Ok, so tomorrow Arsenal play some kind of “huge” game or something and pretty much everyone’s jazzed. Wenger’s keeping the faith, Walcott’s keeping the faith, and I’m just like frequent reader, Connoly’s Agent; tired of all the talk. Let’s get it on, gods damn it.

One final note, Setanta is reporting that Robin van Persie is fit and will start tomorrow. Now, I don’t know where they got that information, but I don’t think it can be trusted. We need Robin no doubt, but I’m not getting my hopes up until I read it on the dot com. So, take it with a grain of salt.

With that, I will bid you adieu. Until tomorrow!