Spyin' Kop Arsenal Away, 30th January

Posted by archie on January 27, 2013, 10:41:26 PM

Well, here it is.

Interestingly, I asked 3 Arsenal supporting friends of mine. Only 1 replied with the others (season ticket holders) refusing. ‘Too much negativity’ apparently.
So the Crispy Duck stepped in and got some responses from a mucker of his.  (Cheers mate)

Do you think you will be able to finish top 4?
Neil: Probably, we seem to be able to pull it out the bag normally. Some re-signings are as big as new signings. Walcott seems more settled and Whilshire getting back to best. Hope we will supplement squad before the end of the month.

Crosby Nick’s mate (CNM): Against my feelings yes, three way battle and something tells me we have enough quality to do it.

How does it feel to see Spurs above you in the league? Is it a permanent changing of the guard?

Neil: Spurs have become stronger in recent seasons but I still see us finishing above them. I don’t consider us inferior to them. I honsestly don’t see it that way and I don’t think it’s rose coloured glasses either. I expect to see them fall away, though I expect them to give us a closer run than in recent years (last year excluded).

CNM: Haha – as arsene sniped last year, it has been a permanent changing of the guard for years now! No doubt they are challenging more and it could potentially be the first time they finish above us in a very long time.

Are the match going fans divided? If so, in what way?

Neil: Hard to say as I haven’t been able to go to the game in a long while. I don’t think fans are anymore divided than they ever have been. Whether it be under Wenger or any other manager, fans will always gripe and grouse. I remember in the early 2000s when going to the game almost every week people in the stand would still be shouting about how fucking useless they were and how Wenger didn’t have a clue. This was at the time we won the double twice in 3 years.

CNM:Yes some are, but some are very fickle also and it depends on the day. I would say there is a growing minority of those who want arsene out, without perhaps thinking of what would happen if he went. If they could put forward a more valid argument or alternative then I would be more than happy to listen to them moan for 90 minutes...

Do you think that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Wenger reign? Should he move on? If so, who are the possible replacements?

Neil: Wenger will go when he sees he can no longer have a positive input on the club. I can’t see it would currently do the club any good at all to get rid of him. There is no way the club would improve by climbing on the managerial merry go round, paying ridiculous wages to Morinho style managers. Wenger has built the club to what it is at the moment and the whole structure of the place in footballing terms is down to him. The constraints on him are financial and he continues to try and develop youth and currently a young team based on homegrown talent.

CNM: Questions are leading on nicely! Yes I think he is not far off, maybe 3 years or so away. He needs to make sure that we get in a few more backroom staff who know the club and would have the passion - bould was a good start, bergkamp, keown, adams henry etc have all mentioned they would like to be more involved at the club and it is those heads who have the winning mentality and passion to be good training ground coaches. Possible replacements is an interesting question. I would like to think that someone like guardiola would like the challenge when he is done at munich, especially over somewhere like Chelsea.

Do you notice a change in the demographic of fans since you left Highbury? If so, can you explain in what way and whether you think it is a change for the better?

Neil: Since I left Highbury myself or since the team left the ground. Hard for me to say mate as only watched from a distance.

CNM: Depends where you sit. My season ticket is with the same demographic as it was at highbury, however I sat in the upper level the other week and it was nothing but tourists. We lost 2-0 to Swansea and a lot of them were taking photos of the scoreboard after the game... it is odd because traditional fans are being priced out of going regularly to football, not just at ours, but across many grounds. So on one hand more people are going to the games which is good I guess for the commercial arm, but for atmosphere and team support, no its not for the better.

Financial prudence will eventually  equate to longer term gains onand off the field – discuss?

Neil: Difficult one. I am pleased that the club have managed to build and move to a new stadium without incurring massive debt as we have seen with many other clubs but this has resulted in limited opportunities for the purchasing of big players. I still believe this will reap benefits in the long term. I am not so naïve to think that Arsenal have the perfect model and there aren’t any number of shareholders making a nice tidy profit out of the club when that money could be ploughed back into the club (Kronke for one, whose commitment to the cause I do question), though the business model of prudence seems on the outside better than the crash and burn policies we have seen in recent years with other clubs (going all the way back to Blackburn and Jack Walker arguably).

CNM: Medium term, no. We will not be able to compete with Chelsea and man city or manu as I cant see FFP doing too much, the rich always get around these things. Long term, probably. Wages, tv revenue, sponsorship etc cant continue to spiral out of control, and although we have a high wage bill (most of it wasted on players we cant now get rid of) there is less risk of us going bust than if other multi billionaires decide they have had enough fun playing.

Over to Liverpool now .
The Champions League quarter final between our 2 sides seems like a lifetime ago now. How far do you think Liverpool have fallen since then and can you see way back for them? (that doesn’t involve a sugar daddy).

Neil: I watched Liverpool against Sunderland the other day and thought they were knocking it around nicely for the first time in a while. I see you beat Norwich 5-0 last night (yet to read the report) who whilst no Barcelona have proved a banana skin for a few teams this season. I think Rodgers deserves some time to get it right and his dealing of the Suarez diving issue in the media was in line with what one would hope from a club with a history like Liverpool’s. I think much like the financial fallout that is battering most of Europe right now,  Liverpool FC are trying to keep their heads above water after being managed (in business terms) by a bunch of cowboys. As a result of the whole Hicks/Gillet debacle it is going to take the club a long while to get back to where they and the fans want to be. That is a hard pill to swallow for both but the club was humped in my humble opinion (and I don’t profess to know the details). Football is now such a global marketing machine. From here is Oman I can tell you I see the Mancs shirts, Chelsea scum shirts and Arsenal shirts and some Liverpool shirts but not many (all knocked off far east copies of course- not bad quality for 5 quid for an entire kit). Far east companies are not going to make money off making hooky kits for clubs that don’t make money themselves. The whole thing is so much bigger than the fans and the club. Very difficult to piece it all together and almost impossible to say it can only be resolved by results on the pitch. Branding and image sadly are intrinsically linked to the clubs success.

CNM: It has been quite a crash, but not a complete disaster. Of course there is a way back, depending on definition of back. If you are talking winning the league then not for a long time without a sugar daddy. Cant see anyone but the current top 3 winning in the next 10 years at least all things remaining constant with money etc. back to top 4 then yes, it will be tough but it isn’t completely impossible, build a team/squad and develop over the next 3 or 4 years.

Looking back on Kenny’s (trophy winning) campaign last season do you think he deserved to go, or should he have been given more time?
Neil: Disgraceful decision (said in best A Hansen voice). Not sure what the board were hoping to achieve in his dismissal. Perhaps they felt he held too much sway in the club and would have too much backing from the fans against any decisions he might wish to make and had been stonewalled on. Don’t know. Especially as he has now (or is soon to be) brought back in an ambassadorial role. Boardroom politics I guess but in my mind a very short sighted move

CNM: Not sure he should have been given the job in the first place if I am honest. Nor should he have perhaps gone considering he almost won 2 cups. It was a very strange time and perhaps nothing would have stopped the decline but that said I don’t think he was the one to lead you ‘back’

What about Brendan Rodgers? Does he stand a chance? Is Liverpool a club for a young manager to be learning his trade?  (‘Being Liverpool’ was a disgrace so we can sidestep that)

Neil: Following on from the above I can see what Rodgers is trying to do and I think that given enough time he may see success. Whether that time eventually translates itself into being enough rope to hang himself by remains to be seen. He needs to be backed by the board to form the squad he wants but whether that backing will be made in monetary terms I don’t know. First major signing? Dean Sturridge now the first player since Alan Kennedy in (’75?) to score in his first three games. Meaningless stat I know but I think he may link up with Suarez well letting Suarez drop off a little (the new “S.A.S?).

CNM: Watching that one with interest. It is a brave move to go with someone like that and I think one that you had to take to stabilise, and build for the future. His track record isn’t great but you never know I guess, it is a gamble and time will tell if it was worth it. Not many other managers were out there however.

Suarez, the biggest scumbag the English game has ever seen or a genuine world class talent?
Neil:  Huge talent but not bringing any respect to the club but his attitude. To admit to diving may be brutally honest but is also very stupid as it will only harm the image of the club. Dealt with well by Rodgers as mentioned above. Race issue complex. Spanish is an inherently racist language when compared to English. That doesn’t make him a racist but it doesn’t make calling someone “negrito” a term affection either. Ultimately like many footballers he is young, talented at football, probably not exceptionally intelligent and is told every day of the week he is a genius and is paid a fortune for it. Hardly suprising he is a bit of a knob from time to time. World class? Jury still out in my book.

CNM: Both. Was actually disappointed to see him made captain tonight against Oldham. I know he is loved there because he is hated (and good), but he is hated for reason!

Moving on to the game. Who are your best players and what approach do you think will trouble us?

Neil: Wilshere v. Gerard massive battle. We look slow at the back on occasions and Mertersacker has looked vunerable.  May well play Ramsey or Diaby (if fit) to try and shut Suarez down. I am sure Wenger will be looking at how Sturridge has been linking since he has come in. We have shown we can score from different areas of the park so will be interesting to see who he plays. I’d like to see Carzola playing off Walcott.

CNM: Wilshere has been immense since returning from injury, cazorla is quality even though he is struggling a bit at the moment. Kind of leads on to the plan that we should, with them and perhaps diaby, podolski and Walcott as midfield 5, should in theory be able to run the midfield and get at your back 4. We have lacked any real threat from wide recently but I think this may be a good ploy to get at wisdom etc.

Do you think the home crowd could play a part depending on Arsenal’s performance?
Neil: As I understand the ground is finding “its ends now” and the atmosphere is better than it was. I think most Arsenal fans, like myself, have a healthy respect for Liverpool, it’s history, and their attitude to the game in general as they see it as being very similar to that of Arsenal.  Normally a healthy rivalry.

CNM: Always can. Has been much better the last few weeks.

It looks like Theo Walcott is staying. What’s your reaction to this news?

Neil: Walcott signing a positive for the club. Wenger wouldn’t have signed him if he thought he was getting two big for his boots. Top scorer this season (14 in all comps) seems to be responding to chance to play striker. Good move. Along with Ramsey, Gibbs, Whilshere, all signing new contracts amongst others whose names escape me for the moment. This young team certainly has potential. I think Cazorla and Podolski with continue to improve Giraud still has to prove himself for me.

CNM: He has always shown potential, but that also goes against him in that it has only been glimpses. I am sure that had he gone elsewhere, he would have done really well and we would have regretted it. As it is, glad he has stayed and hope he can really kick on now he has started scoring more regularly. 100k a week tho!

Finally, care to predict how the season will pan out for both clubs?

Neil: Arsenal 4th and CL place (by skin of teeth again, good run in to the end of the season). Liverpool equally could scrape Europa league place if improved form continues. League is tight still.

CNM: Us – healthy batch of lasagne served in the last couple of weeks means we finish 4th. Bayern knock us out and we perhaps get to the semis of the fa cup before being knocked out. Déjà vu

You – up and down for the rest of the season, occasional great game followed by disappointing loss, pushing for europa league spot, finish 7th

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