Midweek News RoundupBy: Perry | December 7th, 2011
Check out all the news (and the Manchester jokes), right after the jump.
It has been, in many ways, both an eventful and uneventful week for the Arsenal. A disappointing performance in Greece was mitigated by the fact that the match was meaningless. And there has been a noticeable lack of the omniscient transfer rumors this week. Still, there are still some news to report on (and some gloating to be made.)
To start off, the FA Cup draw was last weekend- and just like last season, we draw Leeds. The match will be played at the Emirates on January 9, 2012. If you recall, we struggled to deal with Leeds at the exact venue last season, going behind before a last minute Cesc penalty spared our blushes. A few days later, we eased into a 3-1 win at Elland Road. Considering our proud exit in the Carling Cup was a week ago, should Wenger decide to play a weakened team against Leeds (which he has been prone to do in the past), we might see a different side from our regular CC squad this season- Frimpong will most likely be out on loan, the likes of Squillaci, Chamakh, and Arshavin may be gone, and some new players may be here. Leeds are currently in the playoff spots in the Championship, but lost one of their most influential players of last season, Ivorian Max Gradel. Whatever side faces the Whites a month from now, it’s going to be a cracking game.
Now we turn to our next game, on Saturday at the Emirates against Everton. As most of you know, this is the game in which the formal/official 125th anniversary celebrations will be held, and thus Arsenal will take the opportunity to unveil 3 new statues commemorating past, present, and future legends (I heard Jack Wilshere’s grandson, Thierry Dergkamp Frimpong Wilshere, will be given his statue about 45 years from now). A lot of serious guesses and
funny corny jokes were made regarding the identity of the 3 statues, but insider reports suggest that the 3 statues will be chiseled to look like Thierry Henry, Tony Adams, and Herbert Chapman. All 3 choices are sensible and well-thought. Chapman was a hero at Arsenal in the pre-Second World War era, turning the Gunners into one of the most successful clubs in England, and turning it into one of the most prestigious clubs in the country. Tony Adams was a rock at the back at Arsenal for almost two decades, being ever present at the back from the George Graham days in the 80s and early 90s and the early years of Arsene Wenger’s current reign. And of course, Thierry Henry’s stay at the club was during the club’s most successful period, becoming the Invincibles, winning the FA cup twice, and reaching the Champions League final. His 226 goals (174 in the league) had some say in our success during the first half of the 2000s. While there were many other suitable candidates to be commemorated with statues (Dennis Bergkamp and Liam Brady come to mind), these 3 are legends in their own right and deserve to be honored.
And finally, we turn our attention to the biggest news in the football world- and sports world, for that matter. The final round of the Group Stages of this year’s CL ended today, and we the smoke finally cleared, the world received either the tragic shock of the hilarious boon that both Manchester City and Manchester United were eliminated at the group stage of the competition, and will now take a step down to compete in the Europa League. For all of the talk about these two clubs- and the sharply contrasting talk about Arsenal- by the English sports media at the start of the season, it’s hard not to feel a little proud and boastful of ourselves and of our team for achieving yet another qualification to the Champions League. During August and September, it was Tom Cleverley this and Sergio Aguero that and Phil Jones being God and all of that. Meanwhile, Arsenal were being touted as also-rans, shouts were made for Wenger’s sacking, the likes of Koscielny and Ramsey were called duds, etc. Well, it’s December and the club who’ll be hearing that Champions League tune well into February will be that also-rain club from London, not a Manchester giant. The fact that we qualified out of arguably the 2nd hardest group in the competition, containing the German and Greek champions, and the one-time French champions, shouldn’t be overlooked either. I guess we should reserve some understanding for City, who were placed in the hardest group and had to deal with powerhouse Bayern Munich and dark horse Napoli. But for all of the money they spent, and all of the players they’ve poached from us in the last couple of years, it’s ok to laugh.
As for United, their failure was pathetic and inexcusable. I remember in September rolling my eyes, along with all other Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool fans, seeing United handed yet another easy peasy group. Well, full credit must be given to the likes of Benfica and Basel for not bucking down to United purely on their reputation and claiming some hard fought and entirely deserved points. United expected to just waltz through the group stages (as they’ve done before) except this time, the other 2 serious teams actually cared to go through and bit United in the ass. Hopefully this will put an end to the media narrative that United are infallible and perfect, Ferguson is always right, every player is awesome, etc.
Our hard work will be rewarded with a kinder draw next week for the knockouts- no Barca, Madrid, Bayern, etc. Still, there are some teams I’d rather avoid. They’ll be a post on this sometime next week. As for now, revel in the schadenfreude and have yourselves a good Wednesday/Thursday!