THE BRAVE,FEARLESS AND INTELLIGENT
This is a sort of compendium of Arsenal’s often ignored heroes and heroic events in the modern era that have contributed to our reputation as a formidable and highly respected Football club, despite the British and Spanish media’s ceaseless efforts to dismiss AFC blindly. By the way I got this stirring byline from a comment a blogger wrote, whose inspirational support of AFC was wonderful! I hope this article will stir feeling of pride and confidence in our Gunners for the upcoming season.
My first knight in shining armour is a relatively introverted player who arrived at Highbury back in 1995 for a reported 7.5M sterling. He subsequently played 331 matches until he retired in 2005 at the age of 35 after scoring 109 goals. I ma of course talking about Dennis Bergkamp. He is famous not only for nutmegging the entire Newcastle defence to score a goal of the decade but for his fear of flying that required him to travel to all European destinations by train or bus or car. Now a coach at Ajax, his earlier club, he showed the class and skill Arsenal have since become the byword for.
My second shining event was the evening of March 4th,2008 in the San Siro where a youthful, already written-off Arsenal faced the kings of European football, AC Milan in a CL , after enduring a scoreless draw at the Emirates. Adebayor’s shocker opened up the faint possibility that the Italian superpower might be facing difficulties against a faster, more skilful and determined Arsenal 11. Then Cesc Fabregas stepped up and blasted the Club into history with a wicked left footed drive that left everyone except Gooners supporters in shock. The mighty AC Milan had been demolished in front of their fans, the first time this had ever happened to them and the first time an English team has won at the San Siro. What a night!
My third knight in shining armour is someone who often received attention for his failings and much less respect than he deserved but performed miracles one night at the Emirates, despite his subsequent dismissal by all Gooners. I am , of course referring to Manuel Almunia against Barcelona on the 31st March 2010. For the first 25 minutes Barcelona bombarded the Arsenal goal and dominated the Gunners in a display of attacking fury few had seen coming. Time after time Almunia pulled off fantastic saves and had he not, the 2nd leg would have been meaningless. A 2-2 draw was totally to the credit of Almunia, it could have been a 5 or 6-2 beating, without his fearless goalkeeping.
My next memorable event was last season’s victory against that same Barcelona at the Emirates on Feb.16th,2011. We went down to a villa goal and the palpable fear we all felt at the possibility of ANOTHER Barcelona drubbing was evident all night. Then our best player of the 2nd half of the season shocked the Catalans with an impossibly strike near the far post and the gunners were back in it. Once they had the wind in their sails they began to make Barca look fragile and the inevitable occurred as Nasri’s pinpoint pass to Arshavin allowed the diminutive Russian to slot a perfect strike past Valdes, into the lower right corner of the net. The Stadium erupted, supporters breathed a sign of relief and we became the only top European team to beat Barca that season.
My forth cavalier is Arsene Wenger. I know the press, most pundits, the media and a minority of negative gooners have relished finding fault with and dumping all over him for his so-called intransigence, bad judgements, arcane transfer policies and so on. Anyone who is even the slightest bit objective will admit that he has performed miracles with what he had. While other Clubs played with loaded dice, Arsene had to do with a transfer kitty the size of the PM’s IQ. He had to do this while moving to the Emirates, while leading the injury League every year since 2004, while losing integral players like Flamini, Hleb,Henry, Reyes, and trying to develop youth and loanee players whose average age was never higher than 22. Yet he managed to get us in the top 4 of the best league in Europe, in the CL for 11 years running and in the CLFinal in 2008. we are classed by EUFA and FIFA as the model club for both financial and Football management and that is thanks to him, the manager of the decade.
I am sure there are numerous other candidates and events we can hold up as examples of the bravery,fearlessness and intelligence of our beloved Arsenal and I know I will have a lineup as long as the London underground eagerly waiting to recite our numerous failures, blaming Wenger, dissing players, marginalizing our accomplishments as being insufficient and unimportant. Please feel free to have a go oh esteemed gloomers….but remember that by doing so you’ll forfeit the mantle of class and pride the above earned for all of us Gooners.