It’s all rosy at one end of Seven Sisters Rd, like excited children we can hardly wait for the next game to come along. What’s the mood at the other end though where each final whistle is actually the sound of another of Arsene’s plates spinning to the floor? With Sunday’s game in mind, I cornered a local, turned on the spotlight and asked her a few questions.
So, who are you and why on earth are you an Arsenal fan?
Can I start by saying Carlsberg don’t choose the right week to interview an Arsenal fan ahead of a north London derby, but if they did ……..
I’m a fairly recent football fan, mainly because my dad didn’t like the sport. My dad was actually relieved to have two daughters and no sons so he didn’t have to pretend to like it either. †But I loved watching the big games on TV, particularly the international games, so when the chance came to go and see my first real football match with some work mates in 1994, I jumped at the chance. It just so happened to be a game at Highbury as Arsenal were the closest team to where we all worked. My first match was Arsenal vs. PSG in the Cup Winners Cup semi final. That was the start of my love affair with Arsenal ……………….and with David Ginola.
It’s not quite March yet and Arsenal are out of the title race, out of the domestic cups and struggling in Europe. The season seems to be taking on a familiar look. What’s your take on the campaign so far?
Go easy will you! It’s been a tough week. The toughest times I’ve ever known supporting Arsenal. I am naturally a glass half full person, but even my optimism is being tested at the moment. Each time we hit a new low point, and there have been quite a few record breaking low points this season, I consider it the new turning point and the moment when we start to bounce back and turn our season around. But after the events of last week, I’m beginning to feel like this is now a terminal situation for us this season. It pains me to say it but apart from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere (who will miss most if not all of the season), I don’t see many players who seem up for the fight and I see a frustrated manager unable to get through to them. Should I be opening up to you like this? It feels like a counselling session…………………….
I notice your manager laid into his players after the game at the San Siro last week but is now calling for unity, do you think Mr Wenger sees the irony in that at all?
Well, laying into his players clearly didn’t have the desired effect against Sunderland, so he’s rolled his ‘what to try next’ magic dice and up came ‘try unity’. I genuinely feel for him at the moment. With the team he inherited and the few genuinely talented players he brought to the team, he became one of the most respected managers in the world – respected by Arsenal and non Arsenal players, Arsenal and non Arsenal fans. Times were great not that long ago. Fantastic even. For some reason or reasons, Arsene seems to have mislaid his magic hat and doesn’t seem to command the respect of even his own players sometimes. You only had to see the return of Thierry Henry last month to see the utmost respect he once had from one of the most talented players ever to grace the Premiership. I can’t see any of today’s players having that sort of respect for him. Maybe it’s the modern day ‘celebrity’ footballer. Maybe it’s our collective lack of trophies recently. Who knows? As an Arsenal fan it’s sad to see.
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Thierry Henry’s return seemed to go well mostly and he can add ‘papering over the cracks’ to his CV. Is it fair to say that bringing a statue on for the last 15 minutes of games is the highlight of Arsenal’s year so far or is it just a reminder of sightings of Nicklas Bendtner in previous seasons?
Well, you’ll struggle to find a true Arsenal fan who did not welcome the return of Henry for a brief spell to paper over a crack as you say. It was a success – after all he provided us with 50% of the highlights for all our games in 2012! Since he’s gone, heads have noticeably dropped and the team are unrecognisable. I was at the FA Cup game against Leeds and it was definitely a memorable moment when Henry came off the bench to score the winner. I’d say that and the win at Chelsea are the highlights of the season so far. For many of us, Henry’s homecoming was a brief reminder of our recent successes. I’m sure if Arsene rolled out Bergkamp, Wright, Petit, Overmars or Pires for the game against Spurs we’d all react in the same manner even if they didn’t go on to score the winner. I feel old now – reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ ………
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