BOOK REVIEW: Caviar and Sausages by Tony Kokkinos

Much has been written about Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal, including his own autobiography.

Caviar and Sausages by first time author Tony Kokkinos pulls a 180 and approaches the period from the opposite stand point – Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal fan over 50 decades Tony Kokkinos takes us through a 22 year journey of what happened on the pitch. From the highs of eating caviar to the lows of eating sausages.

The book is broken down into the 3 periods of Wenger’s time at Arsenal – the Glory Years, the Austerity Years and the Stagnating Years.

Caviar and Sausages: Arsenal in the Time of Wenger: Amazon.co.uk: Kokkinos,  Tony: 9781838412708: Books

Each chapter tackles a different year, detailing the key games, key incidents. A rollercoaster through that season before you get off and jump onto the next season. From “Arsene Who?” to “Double Bypass”. “The Invincibles” to “8-2” and finishing with “Wenger Out”.

Original infographics bring each season to life. From amusing footnotes to pitch maps.

The “Arsene Knows” graphic is a reminder of the intelligence of Wenger and how forward thinking he was. Many of his predictions throughout his career were proved right.

The book title in itself is an Arsene Wenger quote from 1998 that has proved to be true:

“If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages.”

Wenger took Arsenal fans to the heights of caviar and then back down to the sausages.

Written with zero judgement, this is a book that all Arsenal fans should have on their shelves as a historical memoir of The Arsenal under Wenger.

Caviar and Sausages by Tony Kokkinos is available now on Amazon.

She Wore

Arsenal match day has become a disorganised mess

Ever get the feeling you are not wanted somewhere?

That is what it feels like going down The Arsenal at the moment.

What the club are playing it with the organisation of a match day I do not know.

For 15 years getting into the Emirates has been a fairly easy task. Small queues before the turnstiles but usually no more than a 5 minute wait.

When the terror level was raised a few years ago they introduced a “Coat check point” at the bridges and stairs where you basically need to open your jacket. A steward also gave you a pat down at the turnstiles.

Even these changes made to keep us safe barely had an affect on how long it would take to get into the stadium.

And then we come to this season.

We appreciate the Covid issues, but getting into the stadium has been a nightmare this season. And for Wimbledon midweek it was the worst “experience” of the season.

They had barriers up at the turnstiles to get people in line before getting to the turnstiles. This create a huge amount of overcrowding around the stadium, with queue times of up to half an hour.

It is almost like the club are making it deliberately hard to get into the stadium quickly which in turn will force people to get into the ground earlier, and boost beer, food and merchandise sales within the ground.

For a fan like me who turns up at 14:55 it has created an unworkable situation.

I do not want to get to the ground early. Drink crap beer in  soulless atmosphere. But if I do not do that I will probably end up missing the first 10-15 minutes.

And then we come onto the beer.

Usually 2 of me mates would go into a queue and buy half a dozen beers for the 6 of us, or however many are standing around at half time wanting a pint.

But against Wimbledon everything changed. Maximum of 2 beers per person.

This was frustrating for two counts.

The first is that it was not advertised. No signage. Nothing.

So me mate queued for 10 minutes to get a beer for us all, then returned with just 2. The rest of us died a thirst.

Secondly it leads to more queues.

Now two people can not go and get 6 beers together. Not even 1 fella grabbing 3 beers. Anything more than 2 and you will need an extra person. And then an extra transaction. For why?

Do they think the one geezer on his own is buying 3 beers at half time to drink them all on his own? He is clearly buying for him and his mates.

So now we end up with double the length queues, double the transactions.

The restriction has never been in place in the Emirates. The ground is not cauldron of booze filled hate.

You then have the new queuing system to get beers.

No longer do you just queue up looking at the bar.

They have added barriers in an attempt to get everyone queuing up in one long, straight line. Another ridiculous decision.

Taking into account Covid, you would think the club would want as few people queuing as possible. But whatever the club has introduced has led to more queues.

Longer queues to get into the ground. Longer queues to grab a beer.

What is really odd is the club want you to spend money. They want you in the ground earlier and quicker.

And anyone who has ever worked in a bar will know speed or serving is the most important thing.

Serve someone, get straight onto the next one.

So now it is “get to the ground 90 minutes before” on one hand but then “we are going to make you queue longer to get a beer” on the other.

It all just does not add up.

I saw someone on Twitter state that this is the club getting its own back on the so-called “legacy fans” following the protests over the European League. That they are trying to make the “match day experience” a miserable one so that people get feed up, don’t renew, and it opens more seats up to be sold to tourists.

This of course would make no sense as it has been shown this season that the club is struggling to sell out. They frighten off someone like me who has been going for 30 years, they might not replace me.

Maybe they just do not want a certain type of fan in the ground anymore?

They do not want someone having a pint at half time. They want those who will buy a pie and a bag of sweets.

I have no idea what the club are doing, but it could make Sunday very interesting inside and out the ground…

Keenos

Arsenal fans should not worry about Saka’s drop in form

Bukayo Saka. Arsenal’s “Starboy”.

His rise in the last two years has been astronomical.

From a youngster given the chance in the Europa League to one of the first names on the team sheet and England regular.

He was one of the stars for England in the summer, and fans beyond Arsenal fell in love with the unicorn riding sweetheart.

Bukayo Saka: Atletico Madrid and Juventus interested as Arsenal demand at  least £43m – Paper Round - Eurosport

A popular young man within both the England and Arsenal squad, his rawness, fearlessness and that smile won the hearts and minds of both club and national fans.

Big things were expected of him this season as he progressed from youngster with potential to global superstar. But his start to the season has been a bit of a damp squid. Underwhelming.

In his 7 appearances this season, he is yet to register and assist and his sole goal came against WBA in the League Cup.

He is touching the ball less than he did in previous seasons. Less passes, less key passes, a lower pass completion ratio. He is also dribbling less, not running at opponents as much.

So why is Saka struggling?

Still a young man

It has to be remembered that Saka is still just 20-years-old. He is still a young man making his way in the game.

Players have dips in form. Even world class players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Dips in form are even more common in younger players, which is why it is important not to get on their back when they have a tough spell.

It is times like now he potentially needs an arm around him. Taken out of the limelight a little. Rested.

Whilst the tabloids would read Saka as being rotated out of the team as “Saka dropped”, it would actually be a physical and mental breather. Something he has not really had in the last 2 years.

Euro 2020 hangover

Saka was sparkling during the 2021 tournament – playing ahead of much senior players. But his competition ended in sadness as he missed the crucial penalty that led to Italy winning.

That penalty led to some horrendous racial abuse across social media from fans across the globe.

No one deserves the abuse he, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho got. And at just 19 he should have been protected.

And he did get protected. Fans came out in support of the trio. England did. The FA did. Arsenal did.

Whilst the smile is still on his face, we do not know if the abuse has affected him deeper. Has hit his self-confidence. He is a smart young man and will come out the other end a mentally stronger player. But for now his mind seems a little off.

No real pre-season

Saka came on in the 63rd minute of the Tottenham pre-season game. It was almost a month after Arsenal had started their pre-season games.

Due to the Euro’s, he did not get the pre-season that many of his team mates did. Nor did he get the break following 2 almost back to back seasons.

Saka is not the only England player struggling for form.

Harry Kane is yet to register a goal. Raheem Sterling scored just once. Phil Foden yet to start and Jadon Sancho yet to contribute much to Manchester United.

Despite his lack of break and pre-season, Saka has played a part in every Arsenal game this season.

Last season only Bernd Leno played more game – Saka appeared in 46 of the clubs 58 games. He also played 7 games for England.

Add in the season before where he became rarely missed a game after breaking through in September. He has gone from not even being in the match day squad to playing 95% of games.

Did Arsenal bring him back from pre-season too early? Knowing that we had two tough games against Manchester City and Chelsea in the first 3 games, should we have given him more of a break and only bought him back into the first team after the first international break?

Arsenal have not started great

We are now 3 wins from the last 3 games in all competitions. But we started the season with 3 Premier League defeats.

It would be completely unfair to blame Saka for those 3 defeats. No Arsenal player covered themselves with glory in the opening 3 games.

Senior players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe started poorly; and both had a proper pre-season. Not one Arsenal player can put his hand up and say he played well against Brentford, Man City or Chelsea.

The victories over Norwich City and Burnley were also not particularly great performances.

Hard fought 1-nil wins where non of the attacking players covered themselves in glory.

Saka’s poor form is simply mirroring Arsenal’s current struggles.

The future

There is no doubting Saka’s talent.

Perhaps unfairly some have compared him to Adnan Januzaj who looked OK in a poor Manchester United team but then failed to kick on. Their fans overhyped his average performances.

Saka has certainly proved for Arsenal and England that he is more than just a hyped up youngster. But he now does have to kick on.

Nicolas Pepe is often singled out by Arsenal fans for criticism. Mainly due to his price tag.

Last year the Ivorian scored 16 goals, and assisted 5. Saka scored just 7 with 9 assists.

Saka does need to improve his output and start producing similar figures to Pepe.

The problem is Arsenal are perhaps relying too much on the performances of a just-turned-20 year-old.

It is the likes of Aubameyang, Pepe and Alex Lacazette that need to step up and produce the goods. That will then allow less pressure and expectation to be on the shoulders of Saka.

Saka will regain his form soon. I am sure of that.

There is an international break coming up in 2 weeks. Personally I would like Southgate to not select Saka – and him also not be called up to the U21s. Give him 2 weeks without a game. Let him have a completed break from thinking about football for the first week. Go away somewhere to relax and recharge.

The reality is he will be picked by Southgate, and will continue to be over relied upon and over played by Arsenal.

The lad needs a break from football but might not get it until next summer.

Saka is still Arsenal’s starboy. He just needs a break.

Keenos