Category Archives: JW Diaries

JW Diaries: The New Dawn Begins

Whilst watching the U15’s Win 1-0 in a close game at Hale End last Tuesday, the first major decision of the season was made; U23s in Manchester (City) or the U18s at London Colney on Saturday, we went with the latter!

When you get the First Team, U23’s, U18’s and U16’s playing over 2 days, the lower year teams become thin due to the large squads needed, obviously for the first team, but also for the U23’s, especially as they travelled to Manchester on the Friday afternoon for their match against City.

My first outing to London Colney this season didn’t disappoint. The U18’s had a 14 year old in goal, the sub goalie got injured in the warm up therefore, a trialist keeper as well as others playing for the U16 match were also on the U18 bench!

For the record, the U18’s were 2-0 up at half time with Aston Villa pulling 2 back, before a couple near the end, saw us get a just-about deserved 4-2 win.

Sunday it was all change.

With my usual pub closing down, it meant a change of pre-match venue! Once the teams flashed up on one of the screens, I wasn’t overly surprised with the line up, but what was worried that it appeared to be a 4-3-3 formation which basically gives up midfield! Whilst I can see this working against lower opposition, it was never going to work against the Premier League Champions who without doubt have the strongest and best squad in the league, probably Europe!

Unusually, I left the pub an hour before kick-off, got a teamsheet from a press friend and was in my seat watching the warm ups for the first time ever at the Emirates Stadium.

Having watched all 5 first team friendlies live, it didn’t prepare me for what was unfolding in front of my eyes. I was shocked to see us playing the ball out from the back, I’d like to think we have been doing this in training, if we did, it certainly didn’t show on the pitch.

As the game progressed, Manchester City played their usual game, taking control with slick movement and precise passing, which was something we lacked.

Arsenal looked a far better side in the 2nd half once the substitutions were made, we were unlucky not to score. At the end of the day, it was Unai  Emery’s first match in charge against a world class team. Manchester City will dominate almost every game they play in this season.

Emery’s Premier League baptism continues with a tough away game against Chelsea awaits, hopefully then, things can only get better……..


JW Diaries: Pre-season over, the real work starts now

After an exciting 7 days in Singapore, it was literally 8 hours at home; smaller suitcase packed, a few hours sleep due to jet lag and then properly up at 4am for a trip to Dublin!

Arriving at my hotel at 11am, as we couldn’t check in until 3pm, we decided to head to what is reputed to be Ireland’s oldest pub, the ‘Brazen Head’ which according to the signage, was established in 1198. The plan was a couple of Guinness’s and a bite to eat before the check in.

After my other half checked us both in on Social Media, lots of Gooner friends joined us and after 10 hours of drinking and no food, we finally checked in to our hotel around 10:30pm!

On the Matchday, after breakfast we headed to the pub ‘Grand Social’ arranged by the Dublin Arsenal SC for cheap beers at 4.50€ per pint. Also midway through the day, in conjunction with the Club, the SC arranged a free ticketed event with Sol Campbell. Sol, as ever was in great form and spoke openly about ‘that move’ and his personal problems.

The match wasn’t great but an equaliser in the 3rd minute of added on time plus a penalty shoot out win against a London rival meant that we went back to a pub near the stadium happy. After a couple, we left, there was no cabs about so we got a bicycle rickshaw – even though I’ve been to Asia many times, it was a first, what great fun!

The next day was an obligatory trip to the Guinness factory and then to Dublin airport with Mandy flying back to London and me going on to Stockholm.

From rain and lowish temperatures in Ireland, i arrived in Stockholm to heat akin to Singapore. My good friends from Arsenal Sweden gave me a lift to my central hotel, arriving at 11:30pm, I was expecting a good nights sleep. How wrong was I, no air con and a noisy fan meet sleep was a minimum.

The next day I went sight seeing, changed up money into Krona and after lunch, I went to the Swedish Arsenal Supporters Club office which was 5 minutes walk away.

Jocke and volunteers from the SC were working hard organising sales of official merchandise as well as their own branded Arsenal stuff to sell at the pre-match venue the following day. Following this we went to their SC pub to meet up with other Sweds ad well as friends from afar afield as Belgium to the Isle of Wight for a night of drinking and of course, discussing all things Arsenal.

For the match day, Arsenal Sweden organised a ‘pub’ named O’Learys opposite the Friends Arena for Gooners to meet. This held 2,000 people comfortably with a 9 lane bowling alley with various slot machines, dodgems and various other entertainments, more Vegas than Stockholm!

It was great to see so many Arsenal fans there, catching up with many good friends from Scandinavian who I’ve met over the years. The highlight was local boy, ex-Arsenal player Anders Limpar giving a Q & A session. Official Arsenal TV was also there interviewing various Gooners for live social media feeds.

The match was attended by nearly 15,000 fans, which over 95% were Gooners. The match against Lazio was a comfortable 2-0 win and following a few more beers it was another restless night and a flight home which was delayed by 3 hours!

My first team tour consisted of 5 matches, 3 wins, 2 draws which resulted in 2 Penalty shoot outs, 1 of those won and 1 lost, 17 goals for and 3 conceded.

Now the real work begins…..


JW Diaries: 5-1 to The Arsenal

With no fan events today, I was able to catch up on some sleep. After spending most of the day around the pool, I headed to the stadium going to the usual bar near the ground meeting up with friends from the UK, America, Australia and most of Asia.

For regular games in England my familiar routine is to get into the ground close to kick-off; yesterday, following the usual bag checks, I got into the ground an hour before kick-off.

Once again the teamsheets were delivered to my seat close to the start as Arsenal arrived 35 minutes later than they should have done which annoyed the organisers of the tournament.

We played really well in the match coming away with a 5-1 Win; it could have been 7 or 8 with the chances we missed!

Even though there was the usual multiple substitutions made, I’m starting to see the fruits of the extra training; a couple of goals were scored at the end, with the players working for the full 90 plus minutes.

In my opinion, Mesut Özil was outstanding and Hector Bellerin is becoming the unsung hero who always seems to play the full 90 minutes. Once again all our young players covered themselves in glory; a perfect match all round.

Afterwards, myself and a friend was invited to the stadium managers office and along with some of his colleagues, we stayed drinking to gone 3am!

My final full day sees me catching up with an Aussie mate and an earlyish night for tomorrow’s flight home. I get back about 4pm UK time and Tuesday I’m on a 8am to Dublin!

No more diary posts from me, I will give you my usual weekly updates starting once again after my visit to Stockholm.