Tag Archives: Premier League

Do you “need to know what it means” when it comes to the North London Derby?

Modern day players, they just do not know what it means to play for The Arsenal. They see the club as an employer, they do not love the club, they do not have passion for the club, they have no loyalty. It is just about a pay check.

I completely agree with the above statement, but the reality is, on the pitch, does it really matter?

In 2004, we had a team that had one local lad in the starting XI. Ashley Cole. And look how he treated the club. We went invincible with a team, a squad full of foreign players.

Look at Manchester City this season. A team of expensive imports. Not a single one from Manchester in their first team squad. And they are running away with it.

Whilst I would love a team full of XI local lads, showing passion for the shirt, winning things, the reality is, knowing what it means to play for the club is overrated in the modern game.

Look at Spurs. Harry Kane is a boyhood Arsenal fan. He watched the 2006 Champions League Final at a friend of mines house. Wearing his Arsenal shirt. He cried when Arsenal lost. He might play for Tottenham, but he is certainly not one of their own.

Passion is often bought up when it comes to the North London Derby.

Lee Dixon joined Arsenal in early 1988. He joined a team which contained the likes of Tony Adams, David O’Leary, Kenny Sansom, Rocky Rocastle, Paul Davis, Paul Merson, Michael Thomas, Martin Hayes and Gus Caesar. A lot of local lads who knew what it mean to play for the club. Knew what the North London Derby was all about.

Compare that to today.

You look all over the pitch and wonder does anyone actually care. The answer is no. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Theo Walcott, Hector Bellerin,. They are not Arsenal lads. None are London lads. And only one is English.

The 1986 team knew what it meant to play for The Arsenal. The 2017 do not.


So Lee Dixon joined in 1988. He had 8 years at the club, under George Graham then Bruce Rioch, playing alongside players who knew what it mean to play for the club. Playing in a team that won 2 league titles.

Then Arsene Wenger came along and changed the club. Less local boys every season, to a point where there have been plenty of occasions in the last 15 years where not a single Englishman has been on the pitch.

We then have the last 8 years. A team of underachieving, over paid mercenaries who do not care about the club and have not even been near to winning a league title, let along achieve what that 1988 team did.

So it is then interesting that Arsenal’s record in the last 8 years home & away and in all competitions against Spurs is actually better now that it was during the more successful period when players knew what the North London Derby meant.

Showing passion on the pitch, and having local boys coming through, is good for the fans, but means nothing if it does not translate to results on the pitch.



When Arsenal’s anger turns to apathy

The morning after the night before. Another morning after another night before. We’ve been here a few times in recent years but something is different.

The anger is subsiding and the apathy is creeping in. I’ve noticed it all season, Liverpool was a great example. Another humiliating display of football and very little reaction from the travelling supporters. We trudged out of Anfield as we did Stoke with no real feeling.  

Friday morning I woke up to various social media statuses that were simply accepting. Few rants, but no real feeling behind it. Let’s face it, it was another very typical Arsenal performance. I’ve said it so many times, it really doesn’t matter who our starting 11 are we, we are average, boring and predictable. We are playing football Wengers way. Loads of possession, poor finishing, dubious defending……it’s now just the norm.

To get us to this level has cost millions in investment to the training facilities and academies, we were told they were amongst the best in the world.

What we saw Thursday was supposed to be our future. Let that sink in. That is our future. That was a result of all that investment. That is solely on Wengers shoulders, not the board, Wengers.

We had one player in the under 17’s World Cup squad. How? What’s happening to these promising youngsters with big hopes and dreams? 

But this was all predicted by many years ago. Be careful what you wish for. We were, that’s why we fought against it. That’s why we held banners and protested. 

In my last article I wrote about the fans. I liken what is happening to the grief cycle. First the denial, some are still there. ‘He’s the greatest manager we’ve ever had’, ‘he revolutionised football’. Then the anger kicks in, ‘This can’t be happening, let’s fight against it’. We will protest, we will sing, we will hold banners. Problem is no one listened and too few of us did it.

Then we get into bargaining, if only we had different personnel things may be different. Then the depression follows, we are nearly there, nearly ready to accept the inevitable and finally the acceptance. This is where we are now. The apathy is at every game, on every social media group and page. The ground is full of no feeling at all. 

Thursday night saw another low attendance. People aren’t staying away because it’s too expensive, they are staying away because the football is absolutely diabolical. 

It may be different if we had something to look forward to. We were all getting a little bit more excited at the prospect of young Eddie coming through and the return of Jack. But we are putting a robin reliant engine into a Porsche shell. I feel I can confidently say that young Eddie will either not be at the club in two years or he will be a shadow of the player that we have seen so far. None of us will have to look back too far to give examples of this being the norm for us. 

When we have a manger who is as silent as his boss upstairs it’s no surprise really is it? He sits there looking as disinterested as us. No passion, no leadership, no class. Slowly this has been creeping into the seats where we sit, where we used to sing and we used to support. Every so often we are thrown a crumb. 1 decent performance in 6 and a little hope is restored.

What we have now, and have had for a long time, is a club in crisis. Even Ivan said when the manager has lost the fans there is no going back. We have no football strategy from what I can see. We fall into each season sticking a few plasters on, plugging a few gaps, only to spring a leak somewhere else. 

I don’t think Wenger could tell you where he sees the club in two years. I am very confident that he couldn’t tell you how he was going to get there. 

Sunday sees us travelling to Manchester.

I asked my son if he wanted to come. He didn’t have to think about it, he’s going to watch Leatherhead v Billericay instead. He will have a great day whatever the outcome, be amongst fans with hope and belief and pride. I will be in Manchester, I suspect having the same conversations with the same people that I have had over ten years or more. 

One final word, should we be given another crumb on Sunday, remember it is a crumb, another token gesture, it’s all part of the successful brainwashing that is taking place from within the walls of Wengers castle. 

Poor regular football is one thing, accepting it is far worse. Making excuses and blaming those who don’t pick and motivate the team is extraordinary.