Goonerhood: All For One and One For All

Editor’s Note: The following is an article written by long time Arsenal supporter Arthur Muyepa. Interested in writing at LWOS? Find information at our page for prospective writers.

As a virgin blogger I’ve been warned by a number of my “caring” friends that the first time I publish my blog it will hurt. Confused, I went into a daze trying to figure out what on earth they meant. I don’t think they meant I will scream in agony and/or bleed in the process, but rather I think what my friends were trying to say is that “emotionally” it will sting every time I get a comment that doesn’t necessarily agree with my opinion, or a comment from a person who just outright hates my beloved Arsenal and wants to bad mouth the Kings of London every chance they get. Oh, yes, I’m a GOONER – and a damn dedicated, proud one at that.

I became a Gooner as soon as I could differentiate the colours white, blue and red and have remained an Arsenal fan through the rigid Graham formations and one-nil score lines, to the “invincibles”, the footballing gods who played with so much class and poise – Zeus himself was so angry he sent angry red devils to end our unbeaten run, controversially of course. I have endured near misses and disappointments, a few big-player-departure-induced heart aches, a tragic leg break and on to the present, where we really are breaking a leg – sorry Rambo, glad you’re healed fully.

But what can we attribute to this sudden success?

Passing for me has been the key so far this season as our average pass success rate of 86% would attest. It seems everyone in our team has become a good passer of the ball – perhaps Mesut Ozil has been running practices? At first sight, Olivier Giroud might look like a typical target man – he does at 5.5 aerials won and boasts one of the best heading stats in the league. But he is so much more than just an ordinary Andy Carroll-like number 9. He is in my opinion only second to Wayne Rooney as the best passing (easy there, Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie fans) CF in the league, and at 4 assists so far this season, which makes him the current assist leader, it shows he is also a wonderful creator of goals. The Jack Wilshere goal against Norwich was surely created by him, and what a goal it was.

The other key for me has been team work; the willingness to work for each other as our record of 19 tackles per game and our 14 interceptions per game so far indicates. In that respect, Mathieu Flamini has been outstanding, not only individually but also leading without the band. I constantly see him shouting and urging his teammates to close down the ball faster and further up the pitch as we’ve seen in all our games thus far.

So apart from all the analysis, life is basically good for each and every Arsenal fan out there at the moment. We are top of the best league in the world – fact, not opinion. We boast the best working midfield at the moment, one which helped us to beat Spurs, who for once had a starting 11 that I thought would test us. For once in a long time I can finally look forward to playing against Manchester United, and the surely soon to be appointed Sir David Moyes (*in his dreams*). I’m especially waiting for Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and as a formality, Tottenham away to see exactly how we will prove our critics wrong.

Arsenal have for so long been that team that plays the stunning, passing football that we all love to see. Each season boasts some of the best players in the league. We have watched Arsene Wenger, who is in my opinion one of the greatest Premier League managers ever, re-build each and every season after one or two of our “star” players have left for what they assume are greener pastures – not all that once glittered is gold.

We have been in and around that top four, patiently waiting for our team to make us proud. Yet recent history has shown we seem to always crumble right at the finish line. As a rude reminder of a year I never want to be reminded of ever again, 2011 was supposed to be ‘it’ for us, the year we would finally get it right. We were in 4 cups, already in a final in one of them, but that was before two of our present heroes botched it – badly.

But this devastation simply outlines the class in the manager, having two inexperienced players (yes, Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny) make such a mistake in a game that literally meant everything to us at the time, no one would have blamed him for never playing them again. After all, it’s so easy to find scapegoats. But instead he simply let them learn from the lesson and afforded them time to build their confidence to what it is now. And how thankful we are for that!

Who would have guessed we would be thanking Koscielny for practically leading us to back-to-back UCL qualifications and Szczesny for keeping us hanging on in games where the wheels were starting to roll off. The young keeper from Poland just keeps getting better, doesn’t he? I honestly believe that near-miss (shouldn’t it be near hit? See: George Carlin stand-up for an explanation) Arsenal is gone and I can spend days upon days explaining how much depth we have to simultaneously keep us pushing for multiple honors, or how we are truly breaking a leg with the man himself scoring again and again. After the goal he scored against Norwich, I am convinced that Aaron Ramsey is officially as good as Wilshere if not better on current form, but that’s a debate for another blog.