Archive for October 1st, 2009

Arseneal Wenger

Add comment October 1st, 2009

As of today, Arsene Wenger is Arsenal’s longest serving manager, surpassing the record previously held by George Allison for his spell in the thirties and forties.

The official site have trawled through the archives and produced a couple of nice pieces that are definitely worth a look. It’s only when you look back at pictures from when Arsene was first appointed that the amount of time that’s passed really hits some.

Arsene and the club are now synonymous. There is a whole generation of fans who do not know an Arsenal without him. There are countless more who can no longer imagine the same eventuality.

Arsene is not only our longest serving manager, but our greatest. And what a servant he has been, bearing the load of our debt to enable us to move into the finest club stadium in the country. Under his term we have become one of the European elite.

The world of football is now very different to how it was when he arrived. To win trophies with shrewd acquisitions and ingenious tactics proves ever more difficult when there are several teams able to invest hundreds of millions of pounds to counteract that. Arsene’s later years have been about trying to find a formula to succeed without disproportionate investment. A man once regarded by some as a chequebook manager has become a crèche supervisor. Thus far, it’s not delivered any trophies, but it is still delivering me a club and a team I feel immensely proud of.

The longer Arsene remains at the helm the closer his departure comes. It is genuinely hard to envisage the day when he is not conducting affairs at London Colney, but it can only be a few seasons away now. My one wish for the remainder of Arsene’s reign is that he is able to win the trophies that give him closure on this – his fourth Arsenal team, and greatest project to date.

Here’s to you, Arsene.

Arsenal 2 – 0 Olympiacos: Patience, Persistence then Panache

67 comments October 1st, 2009

Van Persie celebrates our first goal

Arsenal 2 – 0 Olympiacos (Van Persie 78, Arshavin 86)
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction here

Arsenal’s crowd, like the team, are learning to deal with frustration. In the past, night’s like Tuesday would have yielded immature responses from both: as the game remained at 0-0 in spite of the home side’s domination, the fans would have howled “Shoot” at the players as their efforts became increasingly less fluid and more frantic.

On Tuesday, however, there was expectancy without pressure, and there was assurance without arrogance. Olympiacos showed no ambition, and eventually we punished them. It took until the 78th minute, but the goal eventually came – a flowing move ending with substitute Eduardo crossing for Robin van Persie to tap in his first goal at the Emirates this season.

Before full-time we had a chance to grab a second. Andrey Arshavin combined beautifully with Cesc Fabregas (along with a brief intervention from Aaron Ramsey) for the Catalan to cross to the Russian on the edge of the six yard box. Although the number twenty-three appeared marginally offside, his delicious back-heeled finish provided the scoreline with a deserved two-goal margin.

Whilst the whole team contributed to our performance, Arshavin’s display was the highlight of the night for me. In our early games he appeared unfit and occasionally unfocused. Against Olympiacos he gave a ninety minute display full of the deft touches that typified his first six months at the club. To achieve honours this season we require a focused and fit Arshavin – on Tuesday we got it. The Russian now has three goals in his last four appearances.

As I said, everybody played well. The back four was solid, Song broke up play well, Diaby impressed in a roaming midfield role, Fabregas and Van Persie linked play brilliantly, and in the absence of Nicklas Bendtner Tomas Rosicky produced an intelligent display on the right wing.

The result leaves us in a fantastic position to qualify from the group early, which’d be a bonus and a relief.

We actually beat Olympiacos on three fronts over the last 48 hours – Theo Walcott made his comeback in a win for a Reserve XI, whilst the women hammered them 9-0 in their equivalent of the Champions League. Good going, girls.

Finally, congratulations today to Arsene Wenger: our longest serving manager. A remarkable feat in this modern age. This deserves greater comment, and it’ll get it tomorrow. Till then.

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