Category Archives: JW Diaries

5 hours from Blackburn all for a 0-0

Following the legends match at the Emirates where I was part of the prawn sandwich brigade, next match was an U21 match away to Coventry City in the Checkatrade Trophy.

This was a good test as it was against Coventry’s first team. We won 3-0 with over 200 Gooners in attendance made it a satisfying evening.

Next stop was a trip to St James’s Park, Newcastle; always a decent place to watch football with the city centre stadium with walking distance of plenty of pubs. For a reason that still makes no sense to me, we were booked on the 6:12am train from Kings Cross meaning that my alarm was set for 3:30am!

What with my other half being away on Saturday night and 10 hours of drinking, this trip was only going one way and it did……

The match was uninspiring but a 2-1 win, but it meant that for the first time in an age, we won two away on the bounce!

Following a heavy head on Sunday, Monday saw me venturing up to Blackburn for an U23 match. There was a bad accident on the M6 which meant diversions and missing the first 13 minutes. On the way home, I counted 18 different sets of road works, therefore arriving home over 5 hours after our departure; the match itself finished 0-0, not a great day all round!

The only thing I took back with me from Blackburn was a stinking cold which was to stop me going to a few youth & academy matches.

Following this seasons Europa League debut with a easy win against Ukrainian side Vorsla Poltava, I saw our U23s thrash Liverpool 4-0 at Borehamwood.

Next up was a 2-0 home win against Everton where the highlight was keeping our first clean sheet of the season followed by a home Carabao Cup versus Brentford, a team we’ve not played in a competitive match since the 1940’s which we won 3-1.

Next up is the last match of a run of 4 home matches against Watford followed by a trip to Baku, Azerbaijan. Lots of sun and cheap alcohol, what could possibly go wrong?

JW

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JW Diaries: Booking the Europeans Tour

Outside of games being played, for me the most exciting football related events are the early draws of any cup competitions we are in.

Last week we had two in as many days. Leading up to these, I start to take an interest in the previous round matches for possible opponents.

As I’ve seen an Arsenal team play at 81 of the current 92 grounds, studying the winners of the 2nd Round meant that Oxford United was the only away ground which was new to me.

Whilst I’ve seen our Women’s, Reserve and Youth teams play at Brentford, believe it or not, I’m not old enough to have seen the first team play there! Sadly it was a home draw as I’d like to have visited Griffin Park before it closes down. At least it’s a home draw against lower league opposition.

Fridays Europa League draw was everything Thursday’s wasn’t; a new country to visit, Two new cities & Three new grounds.

After the draw, my priority was to book the Lisbon trip first as I know this was the one the masses will go to. After waiting over 3 hours after the draw, I managed to get hold of the fixtures about 45 minutes before Arsenal published them and therefore got a decent deal.

By the time I booked the Azerbaijan flight, I was running late to get to the Emirates to watch our U23 match against our Middlesex/Buckinghamshire nomadic rivals.

The match itself was a 2-1 Win, we should have won 6 or 7 nil but poor finishing and decent goalkeeping kept it at 2-0 including a missed penalty, before they scored a consolation goal in the final seconds.

They had a segregated section and sold about half of their 500 ticket allocation, their scummy fans proved yet again why they are hated by most of Southern England and many teams in the North;  singing a vile song  about celebrating Sol Campbell once he has departed, sums up those horrible w**kers.

Saturday saw a trip to Chelsea’s Cobham Training Ground which resulted in the U18s losing our first match of the season 3-1. It was good to see Per Mertesacker watching his U16 team play who also lost.

After a Two drive back to North London, with my other half out, I spent most of my time in front of a computer looking at hotels and flights for the Europa League.

I was up at 5:30am on Sunday for the trip to South Wales, once showered I looked on social media to be told that my 08:30 train was cancelled!

After contacting my crowd, we decided that rather that catch the 09:33 train which would be packed, we would get an 8am train to Bristol. To cut a long story short after waiting at Reading for over an hour, we joined the 09:33 at Swindon, arriving in Cardiff after a 4 hour journey just before midday.

We still managed a couple of pints in the City Centre, then off to the match.

I sit in the West Stand Upper Tier at the Emirates which is great for getting an overview of formations but I cannot see either ‘bench’ therefore at away matches I tend to often glance at our bench to see what is going on.

A couple of things I did notice was that Unai Emery had a proper ‘in your face’ go at Warnock following one of many vicious assaults on our players and also following the 3 substitutions, two of our substituted players went down the line giving a ‘high five’ to all the players and staff, whilst one slumped into his seat and sulked, no prizes for which player I’m referring to!

Despite the opponents tactics and inept refereeing, the result was a fair one, our midfield and forwards played well together, whilst the defence still has lots of work needed.

Back in the pub, it’s always satisfying when your team win whatever the performance, then we had the icing on the cake watching a fine Watford win.

As it’s International week, there’s no football to be had, I will be at the Emirates on Saturday for the Legends match against Real Madrid, there’s still tickets available for what promises to be a great day out.

JW

JW Diaries: Meeting Smudger Part 1

She Wore had an exclusive interview with ex Arsenal legend Alan Smith in Waterstones, Leadenhall Market last Thursday; Alan was there signing copies of his excellent autobiography Heads Up which details Alan’s start in non-league football through to his heady heights with The Arsenal.

In this first part, Alan spoke of the changes currently happening at the Club:

“I don’t believe anybody expects things to change too quickly. Twenty-Two years under one man (Arsene Wenger) and his methods, it’s a lot to change, a culture becomes ingrained in the Club along with attitudes to a certain extent”

“Emery will want to try to turn that around, he will want to bring in some more of his own players and pick the team on merit rather than reputation”

“What we need to see is a different approach and an improvement to the latter years of Arsene, more determination and organisation against the bigger sides”

“Against Chelsea it was disappointing that we were conceding chances, but at least we were creating quite a lot in the first half. Now we need to put the first two matches to bed; the season starts from here, start winning matches and try to go on a run”

“This season I believe a top four finish would be a great achievement, perhaps win a cup which of course will add to a decent season, but it won’t be easy, we need to have a bit more steel and a team which won’t rollover”

Next week, what Alan had to say about “the honour” of signing for Arsenal.

JW