Return of The Invincibles

Thierry Henry had the flash, Patrick Vieira had the steel, Denis Bergkamp had the craft, Lehmann had the crazy, Freddie had the guile, Pires had the beard, Sol had the muscle, and Gilberto had the class. Together they formed arguably the greatest football team to play anywhere, any time. I don’t have to remind you, the dedicated Arsenal fan, of their accomplishments, but I will just say one thing, one stat that no team has ever matched: played 49, won 36, lost zero.

A super-team, if you will, filled with superstars who propelled Arsenal Football Club into the upper echelons of football and cemented Arsene Wenger as a genius in the annals of football history. It was a team of players who seemed larger than the game itself and who even to this day cast such a long shadow on the club that to some they even seem larger than Arsenal Football Club itself.  It’s telling that some of the supporters that Arsenal picked up during those halcyon days can’t see past them, can’t see the value of project that Wenger has embarked on, this new thing, these “Centurions” as I have called them. Some supporters can’t see that Wenger is building a new thing, a team designed to dismantle English footballing giants and their moneyed masters.

And I can’t blame those fans at times. I too want success, though I might define success a little less stringently that they I want it none the less. I want to lord my club’s success over others as I was able to do back in the days of The Invincibles. So, I can’t blame fans for having a hard time seeing the current project’s successes, after all, a huge figure like Patrick Vieira can cause quite an obstruction.

It’s made even more difficult by the fact that they keep coming back to us. If they would just buy an island somewhere and play football in the sand their ghosts wouldn’t haunt us so, but instead they play on.

There he is, the captain, the hero, the man who helped toss the money lenders from the temple, signing for the same people he once despised and now playing for people who once said his name as a curse.

And then there’s Mad Jens, who gave an interview recently. Jens went back to his home but has never forgotten about his time at Arsenal.  Sadly, as his career is winding up at age 40 he’s seemingly gotten more eccentric though if you read the article, it’s all par for the course. It’s telling that the headline talks about Arsenal’s keeper crisis, it seems even at 40 and crazier than a shit-house rat, Jens is still the man between the sticks for many.

Theirry Henry as well never really left us. Every striker since has been compared to Thierry and in a moment of what could turn out to be hubris, young Theo Walcott even took his number causing all of England to utter their names in the same sentence ever since as if his name was Theorry Hencott.  Wenger is urging caution here with young Theo, perhaps trying to shoo away the vultures that have been circling of late, and reminding us that this young Englishman has tons of talent, and is just 20 years old. It’s natural though, that folks would compare the two. In his early days, Theo was a lot like Henry, as these videos show:

Sure, that’s Henry at age 12 but don’t forget that Theo got a late start on football and at 20 he’s probably closer to Henry at 12 than the Henry we remember at age 25.

As we wait for that experiment to play out the one who has returned to the fold from that Invincibles side, Sol Campbell, is still out there doing the work of a 28 year-old despite the fact that he’s already 35. If there ever was a player who’s legend could grow from that time it’s Sol as he steps into the Arsenal lineup seemingly straight out of a time machine to head away Stoke City’s Long Balls this weekend.

But in the end, at a time when players seem more interested in giant watches, breast implants, bonking their teammate’s wives, and crashing their sports cars it’s a small thing that really casts the longest shadow over Arsenal: Gilberto’s class. I can’t imagine a player like Ashley Cole getting away with bringing random broads into the Arsenal hotel room, not with someone like Gilberto around to cast a disapproving look and to remind him that that’s simply not the Arsenal way. Don’t get me wrong, there have been manufactured outrages in this side, Bendtner was caught with his pants down and William Gallas once had the temerity to be so upset that his team lost that he actually sat down in the center circle after the game. But those “scandals” are not quite the same as selling private tours of the Emirates, or offering your captain’s armband for sale to the highest bidder, or as bedding down with your teammate’s old lady and getting not only the approval of the fans but the approval of the owners and coaches to the extent that you get a week’s vacation in Dubai to smooch on your own wife.

That’s just not the Arsenal way, or as Gilberto puts it ahead of his return to the Emirates for Brazil to play RoI:

I miss everything about Arsenal! The time I had at Arsenal was amazing and I miss everything. But I have great memories about Arsenal, memories I will never forget. For me, Arsenal was a big school, as I learned so many things at the Club. I am very thankful for everything, the Club, all the people at Arsenal, they were so nice to me and very helpful during my time there. Everyone was always smiling, always there to help me. It’s impossible to point to just one thing I miss because I had a great time at Arsenal. I fitted in well with the culture at Arsenal.

Despite their shadows causing some of us to miss the plot, sometimes it’s a pleasure to have the old guys still hanging around and reminding us what Arsenal is all about.

WoW #9: Abby Clancy Knows Jack

WARNING: the following content is intended for immature audiences only, as the comments will certainly be rife with “Jack” related puns.

This is Abbey Clancy. She’s is an underwear model and has had an on-again-off -again relationship with Peter Crouch, the England forward, who is reportedly tall.

She did some sort of magazine thing for some Italian magazine called Jack, which really would only be a better name for a men’s magazine if they added “it” to the title.  I’m sure this isn’t the first time that people have mentioned the fact that they are Italian and that the web addresses in Italy end in .it. It seems to me like the perfect marriage of Jack and It: Jack.it

Unfortunately, it seems some cheesy chauffeur’s service has that web address but you know, maybe they could, eh send someone over to have a little uhh “talk” with thems ova at Jack.it?

Anyway, there are more pictures of Abbey Clancy and you may be one of my readers who is in to this sort of thing, if you are MagXOne has your fix.

Cheers!

11 games to go, where can Arsenal pick up points?

First off, I’d like to thank guest columnists Chary and Grimbo for their columns this weekend, it was a welcome break for me from the blog to have others writing and I know that a lot of you enjoyed both articles immensely as well. It’s just one week and three days before I’ll be over in London myself and I owe both lads a pint.

I had a look around this morning and apart from the hilariously myopic Graham Poll hatchet job where he actually asks why Wenger doesn’t complain about the referee giving Arsenal a soft penalty and a spate of stories about why Pompey aren’t going out of business, there isn’t much going on today. So, I had a look at the last 11 League games for Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man U and came up with a little bit of a prognostication of how the run-in will go.

But first, let’s tackle Graham Poll. Seriously, Arseblog suggests we tackle him and I think a two-footed Lorik Cana lunge from behind should do nicely. Poll’s column today is one of the strangest pieces of fiction I’ve seen in a while and it has the tone of someone who has been schooled by the master and instead of addressing the issues in a debate, shifts the terms a bit. It’s the adult equivalent of being shut down over the Hansson issue and saying “yeah??? well, what about the fact that Bendtner was OFFSIDE against Sunderland??? HUH?? What about THAT???”

That’s right, folks, Graham Poll claimed that Bendtner was offside for the goal on Saturday. You can watch for yourself, both Bent and Ferdinand are guarding Eboue and both players play Bendtner onside.  It’s an astonishing claim, but not surprising since Poll makes a living now off of people clicking his column and nothing gets more clicks than making up stupid shiat about Arsenal.

I also want to mention the Ashley Cole saga is getting a bit strange. The latest  reported affair took place with some councilman’s aide here in Seattle when Chelsea were on their American tour. I don’t really care who he sleeps with or who she sleeps with I just think the whole thing is funny. First, the Independent looks into the girl’s past and notes that she went to “the prestigious Western Washington University” and that nearly made me spit out my coffee. I don’t know if I’d call Western “prestigious.” It’s a University, that you can get in to, if you’re a High School graduate, and you apply.

Maybe there’s a different standard for higher ed in England, but over here, if you graduate from High School and are willing to take on $50,000 in debt you can get a Bachelor’s degree from somewhere. That somewhere is a place like Western, or if you can’t get in there, try Central, or Eastern, or if your grades are really bad you can always get into Wazzu (WSU). In fact, I think the only test that WSU requires is at least a 1.2 on your BAC (blood alcohol content).

So, anyway, Ashley Cole is a slut, but then Arsenal supporters already knew this. After all, he whored himself out to Chelsea.

Right, enough laughing at the tabloids, there’s serious Arsenal talk to be, uhhh talked about. Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man U all have just 11 games left in the season and supposedly Arsenal have the easiest run in. Much of the supposition about the ease of our run-in comes from the fact that our two biggest games in the last 11 are Tottenham and Manciti while Man U and Chelsea have to play each other, Liverpool, City, and Tottenham.

So, I had a look at the table and made the following assumptions:

  1. The top three will remain the top three because the gap is 9 points with 11 games to go. They will try to win every game because they all believe that they can win the title.
  2. The next 5 teams (down to Everton) are going to play balls out the rest of the season because they all see themselves as Champions League material or they are Everton and Moyes’ team never surrenders. They will try to win every game.
  3. The next 4 teams (Fulham, Birmingham, Stoke, and Blackburn) are in that happy zone now. Relegation doesn’t look at all likely because they are at least 7 points clear of that. Those teams are ripe for the plucking.
  4. The last 7 teams are in the fight of their Premiership lives. Just 4 points separates 7 teams from relegation. They will not go into any battle against any team lightly. They are the spoilers.
  5. Pompey’s job is not to get liquidated and thus fuck up the entire league table.

So, there are 11 games left, 33 points up for grabs and a 6 point gap to overhaul against Chelsea how do we do it? Well, like I wrote a while ago it’s all about wins.

If you look at the table, the difference between 3rd and 2nd place is that Man U converted one draw into a win. So, what we need from Chelsea is actually a bunch of draws. We don’t need them to lose, we just need teams like Man City, Stoke, Tottenham, Villa, Man U, West Ham, Blackburn, Liverpool, and Bolton to fight hard for the draw.  If they draw 5 of their last 11 we could even lose a game and overhaul them.

Chelsea drawing 5 of their last 11 is a tall order right? Hmmm… Man City, Man U, Tottenham, Villa and Liverpool will all be fighting to the last so I don’t think it’s impossible.

Man U has a bit of a favorable schedule, mostly playing their games at Old Trafford but they are also the most vulnerable since their squad relies so heavily on one player (Looney). Moreover, at the back they looked very weak on Saturday and I fully expect that they will finish 3rd this year.

I have maintained all season that Arsenal will push Chelsea for the title this year (though not ruling out Man U) and these last eleven games are the point where they live up to my prediction. The Boss says the atitude is right, the injuries are healing, and the squad looks strong going forward and combined with the easier schedule there’s a real chance here.

Arsenal can get to within 3 on Saturday when they host Manciti and we play Long Throw at the Britannia.