Tag Archives: United

The Arsenal and Me – A Canadian’s Story

As a Canadian born outside of Toronto, there is only one team you grow up supporting. The Toronto Maple Leafs. For those of you without knowledge of the National Hockey League (NHL), it is a pro ice hockey team. The team dates back to 1917, not quite the history that comes with football clubs over the pond, but for what is quite a young nation, Maple Leaf hockey is a long and proud tradition.

Just like in all sport, your families past generation’s pass down support, and this was the case with me. My entire family supports the Leafs, and everyone (mostly) in the community and surrounding communities, shares that passion. So one could imagine, it was hard as a kid brought up in the 90s to really be exposed to anything other than hockey, that is just what you did. You are born, you play hockey as a kid, and you support The Leafs. It’s Clockwork.

I always enjoyed playing football as a kid, I didn’t have the passion for the game that I do now, as I was still in the traditional Canadian, hockey mold, but it was definitely festering. I never really played the game competitively, something now that I am older I regret, I played for my elementary school teams, but never for a league team. I was always playing ball hockey as a kid, it was and still is one of my favourite sports, and so I never had the time to play football.

My whole life was hockey; I would play in the summers and winters, and watch my beloved Maple Leafs on TV. My first real exposure to football was the 98 World Cup, I was only 7 years old, and the brilliance of Zizou in the final was what really gravitated me to the sport, though I never thought it would evolve into the passion I have now. I can still see me and my brother on my basement couch, huddled around the TV, me cheering on Zizou and Les Blues and he the mighty Ronaldo and his Samba Masters. Though, back then I was only watching International competition, I was never exposed to the club side, and at that point still was yet to have an affiliation with a club. The Euro was next, the 200 final is still a game I can relive to this day, my French team, still driven by the great Zizou was up against the Italians. For some strange reason my brother was a big supporter of Toldo, and thus was rooting against me. I will never forget Wiltord scoring the equalizer in the depths of injury time, and Trezeguet scoring the winner in Golden Goal.

One of my favourite moments as a football supporter that.

Lets skip the 02 World Cup shall we… dark times.

I don’t quite remember when, but sometime between the 02 and 06 World Cup, my brother introduced me to club football. I must also give some credit to my step-grandparents, who hail from the mighty Bury and are avid Manchester City supporters (can only imagine what it was like to be my Grandad, when Aguero scored that goal vs QPR… madness. Wish I could have been there to see his reaction, but I will get to the reason why I couldn’t) and they, along with my brother were really the ones who showed me the ropes.

Now for a dark period in my life, I use to be a Manchester United fan.

I know, I know, how sickening right? But to be fair, I never really watched any games. I can’t even remember watching one if I’m honest… but apart fromZidane, my favourite player back then was Van Nistelrooy. My mom is Dutch and so I try to pay attention to how Netherlands get on, and Van Nistelrooy was amazing. This just got worse didn’t it? A Van Nistelrooy loving United Fan? Just thinking apart that short time makes me sick. I truly am embarrassed.

Lets forget that now shall we? Okay, good.

As I have mentioned, my brother was a massive influence on my football path as a youngster, and as I got a bit older we truly shared a great bond over football, one that I cherish to this day. The only problem is that he is a die-hard Liverpool fan. As the Premier league became more accessible on Canadian television, I would watch more and more games and truly became engrossed in the sport.

Than one day it happened.

During the 07/08 season, I was watching Liverpool Champions League highlights (Yes, they did play in the CL at one point) and I came across Arsenal. Here was this team, made up of all these great players, ones that I recognized from my admiration with the French National Team. How had I missed this lot? So I went and analyzed the roster of this Arsenal team, and compared them to the United team. Wow.

I hated every United player, and loved many Arsenal players.

Henry was one of my favourite players; little did I know I wouldn’t get to watch him play for the Arsenal.

My passion was really born late in the 07/08 season.

Around the time of the Arsenal v Liverpool CL QF, I have truly developed a love for the team. It was to be an exciting tie, one that me and me brother were really looking forward too. I had followed Liverpools trek the previous year, their thrilling run to the final vs Milan, and I had high hopes our boys could pull it off.

Ryan Babel’ed.

After that I was hooked, the 08/09 season was the first time I started a season and I haven’t missed a game since. We signed Ramsey that season, I loved the way he played football at the time, I still have nightmares about what happened at Stoke, I don’t look at tackled the same. I am guilty in saying that my support waivered on him after, as it did with most of us, but I am so very happy to see him succeeding now. He is a true Arsenal man, combines the mental strength that Arsene loves to preach, with that brilliant technique. Fantastic. (take that Sir Alex!)

It truly is a family affair now, the BPL is a fixture on Canadian television and my favourite time of the week is waking up bright and early on Saturday morning (7:45 for early kickoff) and cheering on the boys. Like I mentioned before, my brother is die-hard Liverpool fan, and he has managed to convert my step-mom from a City supporter to a very passionate Liverpool fan. My grandparents are City fans, as is my Uncle, then there is my dad… United. Oh how I am enjoying the Moyes Era. It is an interesting atmosphere on Match Day when you are surrounded by so many different supporters, I think it’s almost a luxury of being a foreign fan. Our support isn’t segregated by geography; relationships formed by football can bring people together and rivalries breed competition, both are qualities I love. While we may fight and argue over our teams, it is the love of the game that really drives us forward and it’s something I wish native fans could experience. Though I do understand the passion that comes with being a generational fan, as I have experienced that with my love for hockey.


I take you back to the final day of the 2012 season, I am in my basement watching tensely as we are under the kosh against West Brom, playing poorly and at 2-2, needing the win to secure 4th spot over the enemy. Dad and step mom are upstairs watching on as United are winning and City are down to QPR. During HT, my stepmom was thinking of going to my grandparents house, but didn’t want to be there if City were going to lose the title, it looked a good decision at that time.

Up Step Laurent Koscielny. YES! Thank you Martin Fulop! As this is happening I am running upstairs to catch glimpses of the United game and the tension between my parents, my dad at one point slides on his knees in celebration.

Up Step Aguero. My Word. My dad goes from elation, to desolation, in the blink of an eye, it was glorious. Here I am celebrating like mad for Arsenal clinching 4th (Oh when the Spurs, oh when the Spurs, oh When the Spurs blow a 10 point lead, I want to be In that number! Oh When the Spurs Blow A 10 Point Lead!) and my dad going mental.

Brilliant.

My Family at Xmas a couple years ago 

I struggle to summarize my love for The Arsenal, the bond is that strong.

It really goes beyond description, which is a lot to say coming from a 22 year old Canadian who grew up in a hockey family and in a city with the greatest and most famous hockey team of all-time. Everything about the Arsenal I admire, from Arsene, to the respect, the class in which the club operates, I can go on and on, but you all know the qualities of which I speak. Of course then there is the football. It really it different class at times, Arshavins goal vs Barcelona is the greatest moment in my life, that play was brilliant, Jack with the nice touch to Cesc who played the long ball out to Nasri and the rest is history. Just a shame what happened with Robin in the return leg, we were playing quite resolute till that point. That football is returning now, Ozil/Ramsey/Cazorla/Giroud are really playing their butts off and just playing teams off the pitch, harnessing their inner Cesc/Nasri/Song/Robin and at times, their Bergkamp/Pires/Viera/Henry.

I won’t even try to put into words my feeling when Henry scored vs Leeds.

Sure we have hit hurdles here and there recently… Cesc, Robin, Birmingham, Barcelona, Eduardo, United in the CL Semi, Bradford. But every club has their ups and downs, and us as supporters, just have to back the boys that much more when they are down so we can truly appreciate the good times.

Some say that foreign fans aren’t “True Fans”, and sure, I might not be able to stand aloft on the North Bank and sing my players on in person, I might not have had the most traditional of football upbringings, but I assure you this…

Arsenal Till I Die, I’m Arsenal Till I die, I know I am, I’m sure I am, I’m Arsenal Till I Die.

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here

Do clubs do enough for disabled fans? – An open letter to the Premier League

This season, every Premier League club has been instructed to spend £200,000 to better the experience of away fans. Many of the clubs, Arsenal included, are spending part of this on away fans visiting the Emirates Stadium, as well subsidising away tickets for travelling fans. Whilst all of this is positive news, making football a little bit (the subsidy is only £2.50 per game) more affordable and accessible, it seems there is one group of away fans who continue to get a raw deal when travelling away.

We were recently approached by a disabled Arsenal supporter to publish his open letter to the club and the Premier League highlighting the problems for disabled away supporters:

To whom it may concern,

Last week I’ve been to two games and been bitterly disappointed with the seats I’ve received from the club at both fixtures I’m afraid to say. In both instances I felt that I’ve wasted money on travel and ticket purchases as a result. Yes, I have a disability of being partially sighted from a generic condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which effects my night vision, as I can see inside stadiums as they have sufficient light but as soon as I’m outside relying on seeing from the aid of street lights I have a big problem.

The seating allocation I received for the Dortmund game was ridiculous! The nearest Arsenal fan to me was in a wheelchair at the half way line and Arsenal fans were the opposite end to me. Half of the actually match I spent extremely paranoid as one guy was continually staring at us, and it seemed like a few others were as well. I don’t speak German so that made me even more paranoid when we got looked at and then spoke in their native tongue. The guy who was continuously staring at us came up to us at half time and I can honestly say I was petrified, but he was actually friendly when he spoke to us, which was a huge relief.

In my humble opinion though I should have never have been put in this situation. When we scored I felt that I was not able to celebrate, as we were situated with home fans that were extremely pissed off to say the least. All I could do was look at our fans at the other end wishing I was able to celebrate with them. I’m not being funny but if I had watched it at home I would have been able to celebrate our goal with a smile on my face rather than sitting down feeling down!

As for Manchester United game yesterday, I’m afraid it was more of the same. We were stuck in seats with Manchester United supporters surrounding us, but this time our away fans were on top of us. As we arrived early with the arsenal coach we went into the ground to have a drink and something to eat. Unfortunately we felt uncomfortable eating because the only place to eat was with United fans, and surprise surprise they were staring at us!! So we had to leave that area and go to our seats until the game started even though we wanted to watch the game shown on the screens inside.

To make matters worse the United fan next to me through out the match was blatantly trying to wind me up to the point I wanted to hit him. I even heard him say to the guy beside him say “I’m gonna wind him up”, referring to me! Yet again, I feel that I would have been better off watching the game at home.

The bottom line is that I have spent over £200 over the last week to feel down, uncomfortable and paranoid. If I knew this was going to be the case I would not have travelled all those miles to have these emotions that are detrimental to my well-being, as I suffer from depression which I’m on medication, and pay for it!

Part of the reason why I make these trips are to get out the house and be with fellow Gooners win, draw and lose as we are family. I feel we are been segregated which makes it all pointless. As disabled supporters we should at least be told if we are seating with our own supporters so we can make an informed choice!

My eyes sight are deteriorating and I struggle outside to see in crowds in the dark, but what keeps me going is being with Arsenal fans, its one area in my life that makes me happy. If I do not need a platform I should not to be subject to this, as I just need seats. Sorry to repeat myself but I’m bitterly disappointed.

Leon Boreland

Manchester United Vs The Arsenal – It will be won in the middle of the pitch

ozil

After serious doubts were raised over Arsenals trophy credentials this season, Arsenal have silenced their critics and have done so with big back to back victories. After breezing past Liverpool at a canter Arsenal travelled the fortress that is the Westfalenstadion and put in a typical European away performance and return to England with the three points & being restored to the top of their Champions League group. There is no time to look back and admire however as we travel to Old Trafford in what is most likely the biggest game we’ve had all week. Not in terms of the quality of the team but in one respect only, the psychological affects that come with it.
Three points against Manchester United at Old Trafford is a feat that we haven’t managed to achieve since 2006 and from then to now, it’s been fairly obvious that United have been far better. This season however marks a turning point and thus far Arsenal have been superior not only to Manchester United but also to most other Premier League teams and with 8 points already between United and us, 3 more points for would be monumental. Ending up victorious against a side like United’s however is always a hard job and with us being unsuccessful in our last 6 times, how should an Arsenal team flying on form enter the game on the weekend?
With Micheal Carrick ruled out injured we have the perfect opportunity to play our natural game. With two central players posing as wide men, Cazorla and Rosicky on either flank will be looking to come in and without the retention services of Micheal Carrick factored in, the midfield is not a battle Manchester United have any hope they can win. Giroud will have his starting place nailed on but the attacking three behind him would be difficult to guess and that is the biggest problem for United defenders. With Ozil, Rosicky, Cazorla & Wilshere are all central players however two of them will end up playing wide and though they might start the game on the flanks they most certainly won’t end the game there. Whilst extremely frustrating to watch from the fans point of view it does make it extremely difficult to mark, coupled with Fellaini being the most defensive player of Man United’s midfield it doesn’t bode well for them that their central midfielders will be outnumber by 3-2.
Specific to the way United play, especially against Arsenal, traditionally they attack down either flank. In his time Alex Ferguson would flood the midfield and hope to hit us on the counter and expose the weakness of the team defensively. Today however United cannot do that now for a number of reason, firstly because Arsenal’s team have worked collectively to shut out opponents and if you look at the games against the big teams they haven’t conceded many. In a way it’s seems easier to defend against bigger teams because mentally you are more focused, you understand that it’s a game of fine margins and that any mistake at any time can cost you. However without seeming disrespectful, playing some of the smaller sides in the Premier League you can always rely on your attacking talent to bail you out. Another reason quite simply is United wingers aren’t what they used to be, the fall in quality from last season to this season is a big gap despite not losing any players and if you compare them to 3 or 4 seasons ago the drop in quality is monumental. It’s a simple enough defensive job for our full backs and supporting midfielders and that is to keep Januzaj & Valencia quite and the game is ours to dictate how we want.
If we do manage to be successful in nullifying their threats, Moyes may result to his old tricks against Arsenal and going back for the physical approach and after making Fellaini his first signing as United manager they have a player they can knock the ball long to. Whilst I think the myth that we can’t deal with physical sides should be dispelled by now, it does at least give us problems and slows us down. The only problem that would hinder Moyes in carrying out such a style of play is that United players have no competence in playing this way. It’s difficult to adjust to a big mans knock downs and runs as we have found out with Giroud last year and manufacturing an understanding as big as this in the middle of a game is never going to work. We need to make sure we’re on top of every ball and that every second touch is an Arsenal players, it’s imperative players such as Rosicky, Arteta and Ramsey keep up a high intensity for as long as it’s needed.
With Flamini returning to the team we suddenly find ourselves with two options at defensive midfield and whilst a player retrained will never quite have the same nature as a real defensive midfielder, Arteta should be preferred to Flamini in this game. With everything mentioned above the game will most probably be finely poised and one thing that Arteta brings that Flamini doesn’t is calm and composure. If you scroll up and see what Arsenal need to do, there’s not a single thing that Arteta couldn’t handle and out of the two is less likely to be walking a tight rope or be sent off. Despite all the preparations however football doesn’t always pan out the way it’s meant to and all the preparation and tactics in the world can’t prepare for a mistake, or a world class 30 yard goal and tomorrow may be just about riding our luck. However any which way we win as long as 3 points is the outcome that’s all that is important.