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Arsenal News

Arsenal News


In one of those propitious moments, Samuel Mowbray was bullied into supporting a football club by his older brother.

Not knowing who to support, he picked the team first in the alphabet and narrowly avoided lifelong trips up to Birmingham supporting Aston Villa.

The year was 1961 - and said brother finished up supporting...... Blackpool!

His first scrapbook cutting was from the Daily Express in November that year when George Swindin purchased Eddie Clamp from Wolves for £35,000.

His first game came in 1963 and a 2-3 defeat at Bloomfield Rd  with his father and brother.

He has lost track of the number of games he has seen but is grateful for the hours spent knowing that sport informs life and Arsenal has informed his life.

Ten years waiting to win anything - nad that includes losing to Swindon in the 1969 League Cup Final - is a valuable lesson in today's instant-glory culture.

His favourite players over the years have been the Georges - Eastham and Charlie, 'Chipper' Brady, the other Charlie - Nicholas.

Arguably the most important player in the club's history: Denis Bergkamp. And the man-child - if he stays; Cesc who could become the greatest Gooner ever.

And as sport is about adversity no true Gooner can ever overlook Tony A. These are players who have shown him that the fine line between skill, celebrity, belief, dignity and discipline is an art - and the ability to express those is something never to be underestimated.

He cannot recall when he last had his recurring adolescent dream of scoring at Highbury - but hopes it will happen again before he shuffles off this soccer-shaped planet.



Veteran's View - A plea to all right-thinking Arsenal fans

By Samuel Mowbray

One of the loudest and most intense chants on Saturday afternoon was 'There's only one Arsene Wenger'.

The chant was disappointingly short - why can't we have a Pompey style drummer beating out a rhythm over a long period of time!? -  but intense nonetheless.

So it's equally disappointing to see that there is no manager section in the new handbook.

Player history over the years, and rightly so. But no history section on managers.

And managers are critical to the development of a club.

We should know.

I start my 49th year of following Arsenal - and I know there are other veterans who can top this number. One who sits just in front of me!

So discounting the caretakers (Steve Burtenshaw, Stewart Houston (twice) and Pat Rice) we have, astonishingly, only had eight managers in that time which has contributed hugely to our current standing.

The lesson being the value of consistency.

I make a plea.

No one wants us to win something this season more than this veteran.

We have started well but it's very early days and clearly the squad would be short given an horrible injury toll.

But if we don't (win silverware), please, please don't bay for Arsene's head. The man is a genius. More to the point he is a genius with integrity.

And when you get to my age you get to understand that these are rare people. And he manages our club.

Rejoice. Silverware is great. But pride in what you do and how you do it - is even greater.

On Wednesday let's chant 'there's only one Arsene Wenger' not just with even greater conviction but for much much longer....


Veteran's View: These may be relatively dark days - but we remain in light

These may be relatively dark days but I loved it on Saturday when Talking Heads' classic song of existential angst, 'Once In A Lifetime' from the album Remain In Light, was (part) played at half time.


'And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack And you may find yourself living in another part of the world And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife And you may ask yourself - Well... how did I get here?'


I never know what to read into the selection of songs that get played (though it is high time to move on from the King's 'Wonder of You') but there have been some classics since recorded music became an integral part of matchdays last season ( and yes, like many of my readers I remember the half-time police band at Highbury fondly!)


What was the DJ trying to infer because it was a random choice and a song of such intensity and meaning that I was startled to hear it in such surroundings? A once in a lifetime moment for Plymouth fans - or a reminder to us Gooners that it is more important to travel than arrive and what we all have is precious?


These may be relatively dark days - but we remain in light.


Dark because of the crushingly long injury list to key players - but light because they will return.


Light because, hey, Jack Wilshere signed as a full pro this week and the kid is a star!


Light because Aaron Ramsey delivered on Saturday and Kieran Gibbs just got better and better as the game went on.


And while I am in glass-half-full-mode (rather than half-empty), Abou Diaby is beginning to look more comfortable, RvP enjoyed the captaincy and Johann Djourou continues to grow while Samir Nasri is getting more consistent in his game as well as more confident...


There is darkness because in my view Denilson and Eboue are several shades below the class we have become accustomed to and playing the former 'on the flanks' as Arsene depressingly mentioned in his notes on Saturday - as a remedy! - seriously curtails the cut and thrust and creativity of ANY team that we have seen him manage this century.


There is darkness because not one of our next five home games (according to Saturday's programmes) is sold out!


What do people want? I fail to understand. I mean I really fail to understand.


As Talking Heads sing further into 'Once In A Lifetime':

'And you may ask yourself

What is that beautiful house?

And you may ask yourself

Where does that highway go to?

And you may ask yourself

Am I right? Am I wrong?

And you may say to yourself



You have been warned.


Veteran's View: Youth broke Gallas but will it break Arsenal?

By Samuel Mowbray


So we never envisaged it this way back in August but the season all boils down (again) to (another) 90 minutes against, yes, (of all teams) Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Because, as I am sure, anyone knows who is reading this column, should we lose, we would fall six points behind a team in the top four, not even considered....... one of the top four.

And we have no, Fabregas, Rosicky, Walcott, Eduardo..... you know the names as well as I do! So a defining moment in the season when most of us never envisaged winning the title and certainly a defining moment for Wenger.


We have, potentially, the most incredible young players coming through that I can ever recall. That is no guarantee of anything because, the football gods will taunt humans beings with that lifelong refrain: "When we give out talent, we take something else away".

Wilshere, Ramsey, Vela have gifts few mortals have - but they still have to face many of life's challenges! Hell, Jack and Aaron are barely through puberty!

I am in the music business and it has many similarities to football. I have worked with a lot of big stars and household names. Music and football are tough. They take no passengers. I repeat - no passengers.

Right now, despite the ramblings of people like Piers Morgan and all the tabloids, we have the security and vision of Wenger who, in my view, has to remain as the manager of our club with all that means regarding his way of doing 'business'. You want to know why the team is so inconsistent?

Well, that's youth. That's Arsene. And that's what broke Gallas.

Youth is moody, bolshy, inventive, vigourous, energetic, unpredictable, disappointing, rewarding, joyful, joyous, unresponsive. Gallas has some growing up to do himself - and will probably do that somewhere else than the Emirates - but the sins he committed were those of a man who could no longer contain the youthful exuberance of the dressing room and so he (petulantly) betrayed its and his, as captain's, trust.


Gallas is 31. Wenger is 61. The world turns. It's not entirely about age - but the clock is ticking for Arsene, if not as quickly as it is for Gallas! But something needs to happen at Emirates over the next 40 odd days.

Of course we all desperately want to beat Aston Villa - but if we don't, it won't herald, in tabloid style, the end of the season, the end of Wenger. It will be a significant moment - but it's still important to take the longer term view, look at the bigger picture.


Worryingly Villa beat us convincingly at Emirates. But, as I sat down that day, and saw a team come out - 4-5-Bendtner, I seriously had doubts about the way that Wenger wanted to play against them.

Fine versus M*nure, but not against a well-drilled-happy-to-sit-back-team (whom we have yet to beat in our new home) like Villa.

The same defensive thinking was manifest against Wigan. Nasri gets injured when we have scored (thankfully!) an early goal so - hey bring on Eboue and play him totally out of position.

The rest is history - and should be more Arsene's than Emmanuel's. But why not not be more creative, aggressive?

No, let's move on... though I think it's becoming a disturbing characteristic of how he has set the team out this year on many occasions.


The next forty days is about what Arsene wants to do with our/his money. If anything!!! Do we know? No. Do we care? Yes. Do the tabloids know? No.

Of course he has bought in the January window before... most recently, in Adebayour and Theo, two of his most successful ever signings. He is capable of doing it again.

But I hope he buys some 'experience' because when you get into your sixties (and in the case of Gallas, as I have said, your thirties) managing youth is, well, not just difficult but also unpredictable.

And in turn makes the person doing the managing difficult and unpredictable. By January 31, and not until then, will we really know how the season is likely to unfold: so Villa (a), Portsmouth (h), Bolton (h), Hull (a), Everton (a) and West Ham (h) in the league.

Question - how many points will we notch up in that run of games with two of them away versus teams who have beaten us at Emirates? We can't afford to drop many. And Plymouth in the cup.

Question - what team will run out as the first Arsenal team to play in 2009? How important will the competition be to AW after the fiasco of 2008 against M*nure?

Request - don't get alarmed by the short-termism of the media who have a product to sell!

Have faith - have the faith, and passion, which galvanised itself once Ade had been sent off against Liverpool! (Why can't we/don't we do that every game?!!)


From the next forty days to the next few years... And here I stand, along with everyone else, totally ignorant.

BUT.... given the economic meltdown, we are well, well relatively well, positioned. We have a new stadium, but falling property values.

We made a pre-tax profit of £36.7M. We are 'UK' owned - but there are serious rumblings about our future ownership and about which which we can all speculate but, in turn, right now, recognise that we know very little.

Whether we finish up with the Americans (Stan Kroenke) or the Russians (Alisher Usmanov), none of us can know but all of us should know it will, at some point, happen.(Subplots: Is diamond dealer Fiszman with the Yanks or the Ruskies?

And to whom will the the Indian born, fragrant Lady Nina sell her 15.9% shareholding and which, interestingly, allegedly represents 90% of her assets?)

The good news, in my view, is that whoever it is will have had their wealth already diminished by the recent activities in financial markets around the world and will therefore have a more realistic sense of what they are both buying as a club and buying into as a product.

Because that is what the Dein-created Premiership is! It's a product and the club, as part of that product, is a business. Don't bother going on marches before games outside the ground - show some passion during the games inside... Change is inevitable....


....As love is unconditional. (Unless you leave the ground early or boo Eboue.) We are all in this together!


Arsene Knows - most of the time

By Samuel Mowbray 


I am not claiming that I knew that Arsene knows when it comes down to one match but his genius in preparation for Saturday's game will, I hope, shame some of the so-called faithful and the pathetic going over that the press gave him in Saturday's papers.


For The Independent in their piece - 'Arsene Knows (or maybe he doesn't) - in their new sports section headed 'IS ARSENE'S HALO SLIPPING?' to conclude that there is a sadness in Arsenal's position in that 'the prospect of the game being the biggest clash in the land has gone' was just absurd.


What was an utterly thrilling 96 minutes of football will surely have been watched by one of the biggest global audiences for a club match and neither the Chavs or the Scousers can come anywhere near to commanding the anticipation, let alone drama, that unfolded in front of the crowd at the Emirates or the millions watching from Los Angeles to Beijing to Sydney...


'What price Ramsey scoring the winner', I wrote earlier in the week.


Well I merely got the wrong player. Samir Nasri, Sky's man of the match, whom I berated for not standing up in the blood and thunder of premiership games maybe read my piece. He was blood, thunder and lightning.


But probably Arsene had a quiet word with him because he, Nasri, seemed to understand the nature and significance of this match as if he were an Arsenal veteran. For me Denilson was my man of the match and who suddenly looked like a serious holding midfield player.


And stand up Abou Diaby. These three were just superb and the way that Wenger has nurtured Abou into his new position just tucked in behind the front man is an act of genius from, and let's stand up and say it, one of the great coaches of all time.


Oh, and front man? I hate to write this but if any of the 147 people who responded to my Bendtner piece a couple of months back would still like to stand up and make a case for him (in an intelligent way please), then do so. I will bow to Arsene's judgement on him a little bit longer but he was poor on Saturday. Poor because he made bad decisions.


Any striker will miss chances but when a sportsman makes wrong decisions - and as often as he does - and which he did more and more as the game unfurled, it's a sign that he or she will not make it to the highest level. And I fear that NB won't make it - much as I hate writing that.


So. Let's enjoy the moment. Let's enjoy finally a little bit of the rub of the green and the time when players like Denilson, Diaby and Nasri rose to the moment in the absence of all our injuries and suspension.


And let's enjoy it that Arsene knows. And that if he nevers wins us another trophy, he should be heralded and loved at every game.


It is no surprise that the two most important clubs in the premiership have the two longest serving managers and if I ever hear anyone abuse Wenger around me, I might get physical. And for those that know me, I am not that sort.


And, finally, what made my weekend even more deliciously satisfying was to learn in the Daily Mail that the man who unearthed Clichy, who was again superb, at Cannes was none other than...... Damien Comolli.


Wonderful! As my weekend has been. Bring on the kids on Tuesday.


I can't wait.


Veteran's View - Wenger warning should be heeded by all true Gooners

By Samuel Mowbray

It takes two to tango - but heed this. For anyone living in the London area and who picked up, or who probably didn't pick up, the later editions of the Evening Standard on Thursday night (23rd): be warned.


Now I bemoaned in an earlier column at the pathetic response as our 'kids' thrashed Sheffield United. And I accept that papers distort quotes - but has AW ever sent out such a message to Arsenal fans?

Coded - or uncoded?

I don't necessarily accuse Arsenal Addicts of such behaviour - but we have a responsibility to which I will return. As does the club.

I started supporting Arsenal in 1961. Look up our records for the next nine years. I was living in Australia in 1970 so missed the famous night at Highbury against Anderlecht in April of that year.

AA wanted me to write about my best Tottingham moments. Let me tell you. After ten years supporting the club, and to this day it is the only moment I haven't been able to get into a game, being locked out of the Lane on May 31971 was/is a moment I will never forget.

Ten years. And the fear.

Some people say there were 65,000 people locked outside. No one knows in a pre-multi media age (the game wasn't televised) - but I have never experienced a crush in a crowd like it.

So I won't romanticise/dramatise the moment. But ten pitiful, trophy- less years makes you, experiencing something like that, take nothing for granted

And so I never take a Wenger game for granted. Hence my call to action following the Carling cup game.

Do most of you have any idea how good this is? How could anybody boo at half time last Saturday?

In all the comments following my criticism of Bendtner some weeks back, I took the comment of 'an old man who loves the club' as a badge of honour. Some people know nothing of finishing outside the top four - and even then might take that as failure.......

I write out of love.

Wake up. Because to the twenty year olds that inhabit Emirates - and who know nothing of Gooner life beyond Arsene: you know nothing.

You don't know how good this is. There may not be silverware since 2005 - but in my lifetime there was nothing from 1953 to 1970.

Passion - and Newcastle comes to mind - is admirable but may, and in their case does, win nothing.

However apathy is an attitude that is more disgraceful. Our apathy is a disgrace in the beauty that is generally put on offer in front of us every fortnight.

Lambast me for my comments on Bendtner as many of you did - but I will never leave early. I will never boo. And I pray that we never become the prawn sandwich crowd that Keane railed against in his time as a Manchester United player. But wake up - because we are heading that way.

So. Where does this leave us?

It leaves Arsenal Addicts to take the lead. This probably isn't against you but..... we have a responsibility.

As does the club.

As I said, it takes two to tango. Arsenal still have a massive lesson to learn and should confront it. The crowd is not best dispersed to lend support. I don't care if amplification is used to 'heighten' the silence that surrounds Emirates at the moment.

Something needs to be done to raise the creativity, as I have written before, of our chants. But the club has a responsibility - and lets have us Addicts lead the way. Comments please. Now.

The headline in last night's Standard is a warning.

We should heed it.