The four “A”s of Arsenal…And have a cup of speedy coffee

At some point I know I am going to have to write about the massacre of Tivoli Gardens, one year ago.  It is like a huge balloon full of water, so heavy it is about to burst.  But for now, let me turn to the Petchary’s one big distraction (and great passion) – that is, football.  And to be specific, the Arsenal Football Club, North London‘s finest.

Apart from the name of the club (which, if shortened, is rather a rude word in “English English“) there are some lovely players beginning with “A.”  I hope they will be with us for another season, which again this year remained “trophyless” (an awkward non-word, but you know what I mean).  No bloody silverware, again, and the Carling Cup slipping from our grasp – and won by a team which has now been relegated!

But there now, I have started picking at that wound again, and it is going to reopen.  We Arsenal fans can’t help but feel bitter though, especially as we held doggedly on to second place through three quarters of the season – even snapping at ManU’s heels once or twice – only to slip determinedly down in the last three or four weeks, allowing both Chelsea and Manchester City to step over us, to end up fourth.  How did that happen, Mr. Wenger?  I’m tired of seeing you pursing your lips and thrashing angrily at the air as we miss yet another opportunity to score that elusive GOAL.  I felt like thrashing angrily at you, on many occasions.

Well, we Arsenal fans have been accused of being whiners, and that’s exactly what I am doing, so I had better shut up.  Let’s go then, A is for…

Andrei Arshavin.  A small dynamo of an attacking midfielder, and hugely popular with the fans.  He had a really bad patch half way through the season, but was looking very lively towards the end and played with determination and flair even in games we only drew (or lost, ugh).  He has been a Gunner since 2009 and I really hope he sticks around.  He has speed and great footwork at his best, darting and dribbling right up to the goal.

Andrei Arshavin
He has a childish way of sticking out his tongue when he scores a goal.

Young Andrei was born in St. Petersburg in pretty poor circumstances.  Injured in a car accident as a child, his early years were tough.  He was a naughty boy at school too, and got himself expelled.  And hey, his thirtieth birthday is this weekend!  He doesn’t look that “old.”  But he started playing football really young, and in 2007 had a wonderful season scoring and assisting for his home town team, Zenit St. Petersburg.  After Mr. Wenger had finally got hold of him, the diminutive Russian scored his first Arsenal goal against Blackburn Rovers in March 2009.  In a terrific game against Liverpool last season, he scored all four goals for Arsenal in a game that ended 4-4.  I remember it well, definitely a great highlight.  Loud and raucous shouts in the Petchary household.

And do you remember that heavenly shot from thirty yards out against ManU last summer?  There’s much more to come from Andrei, I feel sure.  And he’s a great little team player.  There are serious rumors that he may be lured away by fellow-Russian, the Chelski owner.  Or back to St. Petersburg.  I hope not!

Andrei Arshavin, Arsenal midfielder
The impish Mr. Arshavin. I can just imagine him as a naughty schoolboy.

Trivia question:  What does Andrei Arshavin have a degree in?

Next:  A is for Aaron Ramsey.  A pale young Welshman who didn’t start playing until March this year; he suffered a broken leg, inflicted by Ryan Shawcross in a game against the ever-physical Stoke City.  Poor Ramsey; it was quite a blow to him so early in his career.  But he has come back gamely and is showing promise.  He is a really versatile midfielder and can do all kinds of stuff when given the chance.  And he is only twenty years old.  He started his career with Cardiff City as their youngest ever player, sixteen years old.  He became a Gunner in June 2008 and Mr. Wenger describes him as “a fantastic engine.”  Well, not sure what his locomotive qualities are but I think I get it…

Aaron Ramsey
Such a serious young man.

And he also scored against the much-loved (much-hated by me) Manchester United – his first goal this season!  Well done.  And let’s crown him Football King (or Prince, too young to be a King) of Wales.  He was named Captain of the Welsh team earlier this year, although they played England and lost.  He is now the permanent Wales captain, and their youngest ever.  And he’s bilingual, a true Welsh speaker.  Gwych, Aaron!  (That means “great” in Welsh, but don’t ask me how to pronounce it).

Trivia question:  What sport did Aaron play really well as a “young youth”?  Hint: not football/soccer, of course.  We know he was good at that.

OK, here’s another.  Alexandre Song.  Or to give him his full name, Alexandre Dmitri Song Billong, one of Mr. Wenger’s collection of Francophone players and a particular favorite of the Petchary’s.  Very much a defensive midfielder, he is usually pretty solid – although he does have his “off” games, when he seems to hang his head, as he often does when things don’t go his way.  He had a few fairly dreadful games this season, when my son and I have called out exasperatedly from the sofa, “Oh, Song!”  And we weren’t asking for anyone to start warbling, either.

Alexandre Song playing for Cameroon
Alex playing for his home country. And that was BEFORE... (see next photo)

Song is really strong.  Yes, I know that rhymes.  He pushes furiously up and down midfield, head down, patiently scooping up the ball.  He gets yellow cards a lot, like most defensive players, and then a dogged, resigned look crosses his face.  He walks away, shoulders slumped, but soon cheers up again.

Song is 24 and he is from the Cameroon.  He played for his country in the last World Cup.  He was born in Douala, and had a pretty deprived childhood.  There wasn’t much opportunity for a good footballer in Cameroon, and “Petit Song” (his nickname) moved to France and started playing for SC Bastia at the age of sixteen.  Two years later he got married; he has two children.  Then Arsenal bought him for a mere one million pounds.

Alexandre Song, Arsenal defensive midfielder
See photo on the left!! The hair!!! The beard!!!! On the right, Alex pre-dreads and pre-yellow stuff.

But this season, something terrible happened to dear Alex.  He dyed his hair yellow (not blond, yellow), then grew a beard and of course, that is yellow too.  He had a very strange rush of blood to the head.  He claims his wife likes it, and he was bored with his spiky locks, all the black footballers have them.  Now his hair looks like a washing up pad that has scrubbed too many pots.

Apart from acquiring some great new players, I am hoping that Mr. Wenger might be able to use the time between seasons to persuade Alex to wash out that yellow stuff.

Trivia question:  How many brothers and sisters does Song have?  (Take a really wild guess).

And now to Abou Diaby.  Tall, lanky, and just celebrated his 25th birthday.  Diaby reminds me of a former Arsenal player I used to love, Patrick Veira; but he claims to be much less aggressive than Patrick, who used to have furious temper tantrums quite regularly (the dreaded “red mist”).  Still, the same long-legged but surprisingly delicate touch on the ball.  Monsieur Diaby (yes, another Francophone) has had a kind of on-and-off season, I would say.  Moments of great clarity, and other days when he seemed bent on passing off the ball to the opposing team.  Sigh.  He has had some fitness problems but… well, when he scores the occasional goal, it is a beautiful thing to behold.  So all is forgiven.

Robin van Persie consoles Abou Diaby after he scored an own goal
Arsenal's fabulous striker Robin van Persie consoles Diaby for a really disastrous own goal against - yes Man U again.

His first name is actually Vassiriki.  Eh?  And he is a Frenchman of Ivorian descent, and a central midfielder.  He trained at the famous Clairefontaine Academy and played for a few French teams before he was honored with the Gunnership in 2006.  He was a member of the tremendously pig-headed and pathetic French team that melted down in last year’s World Cup. Another sigh.   The French national team seem to court drama (remember the Zidane head-butt?)

Abou Diaby
Abou getting into a spot of bother with the Chelsea team (who as usual, are ganging up on him and no doubt the ref, and whining in chorus)

Trivia question:  What religion is Abou Diaby?   (Easy)

There is another “A” in Arsenal, finally.  And that is the esteemed manager, Arsene Wenger.  He has been described as “professorial,” whatever that means.  And I am so thankful he doesn’t chew gum, like Sir Alex.  So undignified.  But I will write more about AW another time, when I have composed my thoughts.  At the moment, I don’t feel kindly disposed towards him.  My feelings may soften.

Now, the Petchary also loves Argentina.  They are so rough and tough and full-blooded, not so much of that pretty stuff the pretty Brazilians do.  So I read with interest an article in the newspaper, in which Diego Maradona and some other players were reminiscing about the good old days.  I was struck by the headline, “Maradona teammates deny consciously taking drugs.”  In the article, Diego’s former teammates are a little vague in their recollection, but Maradona himself puts it in his own inimitable way:  “What happened is that to play against Australia [in 1994] we were given a speedy coffee. They put something in the coffee and that’s why we ran more.”  They were apparently given a choice – speedy water or speedy coffee.

I know what he means by a speedy coffee.  I take one every morning to get my brain working in the office.  And sometimes I do wish it had performance-enhancing ingredients.

Gunners forever!!  Viva Argentina!!

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6 thoughts on “The four “A”s of Arsenal…And have a cup of speedy coffee

  1. Arse won nowt in 6 years….Wenger NOT a genius, just another overrated paranoaic, who STILL doesn’t see that English football requires English/Scot/Irish/Welsh players.
    They will finish behind Chelsea, Manure, Liverpool and Spurs next season.

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    1. We have not finished behind Spurs for many, many years so I think that highly unlikely. And paranoid Wenger? That is also a gross overstatement. Actually, Arsenal DOES have British players… Ramsay (Welsh)? Wilshere? Walcott??? Do your homework, please.

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  2. Great blog Ma and I actually have second thoughts on the whole Wenger situation. I definitely think it would be stupid to get rid of him, however to put it bluntly, he needs to get his head out of his ass and start taking into consideration buying some players where it is clearly obvious we need some experience and a little more aggression and muscle. We’re on the verge of having a great team with two or three purchases over the summer and to help stop the landslide that was the end of the season for Arsenal, but with the wrong decisions over the summer and with Wenger’s continued over confidence in such young, unexperienced players, the landslide has the potential to only get bigger (fingers crossed this is not the case!!). I like who we are being linked with in the English newspapers, however actions speak louder than words, so please Mr. Wenger for once use that extra cash you definitely have access to and will receive after getting rid of dead weight like Bendtner and Denilson!

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    1. Hi Sam, I agree with all of the above although I am not sure I agree about Bendtner. I wouldn’t say he’s dead weight but hey, looks like he’s leaving anyway. I hope Arshavin doesn’t go… he has a lot of spirit. I’m never quite sure with Arsenal whether it’s a psychological problem or just the physical thing (I think we need a couple of physically big players)… I guess it’s a bit of both. Yes, I agree if we make the right purchases and get a couple of good, experienced and solid players (defenders) we should be looking good for next season. Denilson’s definitely going it seems. He has been utterly useless throughout the season. Let’s see what happens this summer…

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  3. Spot on Post, thank you, I just hope this past season was a fluke season for these players and if they return next season they will me a more mature and use to the rigors of the League. I think when it comes to scoring goals we are OK but it is the defense that is complete rubbish and when you have everyone trying to defend we lose matches. The players have no confidence in the defense and that is causing a load of problems for us. If Wenger can put in place a solid back four this will allow our forward players to do what they do best. I would also like to see them a bit more direct in front of the goal, far too much passing and not enough taking shots, just wasted efforts. Arsenal can end a match with 70% possession and still draw or lose that is not right, laughable in fact. So a lot needs to change and it is up to Wenger to change it.

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    1. I agree with every word. Yes, there is a serious imbalance in the team which has prevented our forwards from really shining, which I know they are capable of. I think we have some great players but they have not been given that opportunity. And yes, what’s with all that passing? It drives me crazy sometimes. My son yells at the television, “Shoot! Shoot!” We need to keep it simple, and direct. I am not too pleased with Wenger – he doesn’t seem to see things that are staring him in the face – and I think he has short-changed great little players like Nasri who do their best. My son thinks Wenger should go. I think he needs to have a complete change of mindset. It was also depressing that we collapsed in the last few weeks of the season and slid down to fourth. Why could we suddenly not win a game? You are right, a LOT needs to change!

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