Dec 162010

Well it’s begun to sink in. Our top two opponents, 7 years, 11 played, 1 draw. That record has to change and that can start just after Christmas when we face Chelski.

In the meantime there’s the visit of Stoke. It’s ridiculous that the buildup to this match will inevitably be focussed on how Stoke play. That surely only exacerbates how the Stoke players will approach the game. Tony Pulis, that dickhead in a cap, will use any negative press or media statements about how they play to emphasise how “Arsenal don’t like it up them” and that they should ignore what’s been said and just focus on breaking a few players legs.

Shawcross is just a thug. I like the physical side of the game, and in my long-gone very much amateur playing days I remember leaving the boot in just to make a point. But I wasn’t playing at anything remotely resembling the top level. Violence on the professional pitch is better left in the past.

The modern game is faster, more skilful and more exciting; much the better for the greater discipline demanded of the players.

That said, a hard legal tackle has its place. But that’s very different from the kind of lunges we’re used to seeing from the likes of Stoke. If we’re on the receiving end of that kind of physical abuse, then we have to give as good as we get, but only so far as is legal. A game that ends up being little more than a violent brawl is a long, long way from the style of play that we’ve succeeded with and that AW has spent the last fourteen years instilling into our club.

So, bring on the Pottters, but let’s not the game devolve into some press-induced riot. We need to concentrate on our own game, and not concentrate on bringing our game down to the level of the likes of Stoke.

Szczesny might well have forced a dilemma into the boss’ mind, but only by coming out with some comments in the Guardian. I’m not a fan of players mouthing off every time they play well, and I don’t think it will impress the boss. He’d be better just getting his head down, but that said, he did play well, and it’s good that Lukasz has someone him pushing for his spot.

In the Express we’re going to build a new training centre in America thanks to Stan Kroenke. A good thing, no? I’d rather we built a new training centre in North London. There are a number of good reasons to build another youth centre in or near London, and not in the states.

There’s all the talent that goes to clubs from QPR to Orient and into West Ham’s youth set-up for example; there’s doing something for the game in the club’s heartland; and there’s even Stan Kroenke not doing something that is in national terms self-centred if not self-serving as well.

We could simply try more training programmes with all the grass and artificial pitch centres across the greater capital area.

I know we have a world class training centre of our own for established, reserve, youth and academy players, and ‘the States is a growth market’. But British and especially London kids need to be the priority even for a club as big as the one we love.


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