Firstly to explain that this issue was originally scheduled to go to press on the weekend of the postponed match v Stoke. As contributions are prepared and many of the pages laid out before deadline day, there are references in places to upcoming matches that might not quite make sense timewise. We had to delay publication (originally this would have gone on sale on December 27th v Chelsea) as we need a certain number of home fixtures (normally three) to sell enough copies to ensure we do not run at a loss. Due to our printers’ Christmas schedule, only this spread and the Chelsea match view were written after the weekend of December 18th/19th. Next up, a word about the perceived negativity of the fanzine. Some fans have stopped buying The Gooner, they tell our sellers, because it has become too negative. I think it should be made clear that there is no editorial line in terms of the publication as a whole. I will stand and fall by what I write myself on pages 2 & 3, and occasionally express the hope, when in doubting mood, that my fears will prove unfounded. However, others submit what they wish to write unprompted by the editor. So if, overall, there feels like more of an anti-Wenger than pro-Arsène feel, it is only because of what has been sent in. We do not tell writers what tone to take. However, for once, in the pages that follow, we have made an exception. This time around, we expressed a need for some more positive articles, and some of our contributors responded. I hope those that only like to read pleasurable things about Arsenal will enjoy this particular edition. I am not saying it will be back to normal next time around, because I am not convinced there is actually a thread of a particular opinion that runs through any edition. What I will state is that as a rule, if a positive article comes in, we have no hesitation in running it, because we all like to read good things about our team. At the same time, if people want to stick their heads in the sand when there is clearly something not right, perhaps it is better if they choose the official programme as their source of opinion. Onto playing matters. I am writing the morning after the defeat of Chelsea. By the time this issue is being read, visits to Wigan and Birmingham, scenes of dreadful events last season, will have determined whether the victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s side was just a great evening or a harbinger of things to come. There seems little doubt that this season’s champions will require a much lower points total than customary, although ironically, there is a threat to Arsenal’s Invincible season in Manchester United’s ability to remain undefeated. But as it stands, the title is very much there for the taking, and it’s up to the players to prove that they have learned from previous collapses in 2008 and 2010. One regular contributor to our website onlinegooner.com - Ian Tanner - has expressed the view to me that the team seem almost afraid to win. When opportunity presents itself, they are unable to take advantage
through some kind of a mental block. It’s certainly true that psychological strength plays its part in successful sides, and that often this is developed through winning in tough situations and especially through the winning of trophies. There is a view that winning the Carling Cup could prove a springboard to more significant trophies, and it’s a view I share. Naturally, Arsenal’s participation is dependent on beating Ipswich over two games, but if they cannot manage that, then some serious questions need to be asked. If they do get through, although the final is between the two legs of the Champions League tie with Barcelona, the three week gap between the first and second legs means that Arsène Wenger will not have to prioritise one competition over the other. So let us hope that he fields his strongest possible line-up if the team do reach Wembley, as the club need to get the feeling of winning silverware again, even in a competition you get the feeling the manager could take or leave. It’s good enough for Manchester United and Chelsea to enjoy winning, and it has never seemed to do their prospects of bigger trophies any harm. The contrast between the performances against Manchester United and Chelsea was marked, and looking for reasons, you’d have to say it was something to do with the players that started the respective matches. After the United defeat, out went Szczesny, Squillaci, Rosicky, Arshavin and Chamakh and in came Fabianski, Djourou, Fabregas, Walcott and Van Persie. With the exception of the keeper, all the changes offered the side something better than was there before (in Walcott’s case, a bit of energy and drive, as he is obviously not a better player than Arshavin). Arsenal’s only two players who could really make any kind of claim to be approaching world class are the captain and the Dutch forward, and if the team are to succeed, realistically, they both need to be playing. The victory over Chelsea proved what the team are capable of. It seems a long time since they beat either of the two sides that have shared the title, and they need to do this more often if they are to prove they have the winning mentality required to be the best team in the Premier League. It may be a season in which sides are falling over themselves to give each other the title. My God, even Spurs are talking about their chances of nicking it. But history will not be placing an asterisk by the winners in the 2010/11 season stating that the champions were only such because everyone else was so bad. The pot is there for the taking. Arsenal, at the top of their game as they were against Chelsea, are good enough to win the thing. What we are now crying out for is some consistency. The Wigan and Birmingham matches will establish whether the team are capable of it at venues with bad memories. Let’s hope by the time you read this that some demons have been conquered as convincingly as Chelsea were the day after Boxing Day. A quick note to say that if anyone needs an extra copy of the calendar we have given away with this issue, send an A5 sized SAE to the usual address on page 3, or buy one online from our website for 50p. To finish, I wish everyone a happy 2011. Here’s hoping Arsenal give us reasons to cherish the year once it’s behind us.
- Kevin Whitcher
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CONTRIBUTORS Kevin Whitcher, Mike Francis, Phil Wall, Steve Ashford, Mike Slaughter, Warren Swaine, Brian Dawes, Charlie Ashmore, Marc Ollington, Simon Rose, Robert Exley, David O’Brien, Howard Lamb, Tim Stillman, Bernard Dowling, Simon Blackburn, Ian Henry, Nadim Naaman, Stuart Watson, Nick Kelsall, Mike Hennessy, Alister Campbell, Tony Huegdon, Graham Yates, Fishpie, Michael Farmer, Grant Tabard, Sam Bradshaw, Kevin O’Connor, Paul Regan, Phil Venton, Steve Harris & Tony Porter ARTWORK Darren Rackham, Mike Murphy & The X-Man PHOTOS Offside Sports Photography & Professional Sport MATCHDAY SELLERS Dave, Mrs B, Andrew, Rich, Frank, Alex, Griffo, PJ, Marc, David, Paul, Pete & James PRINTERS Regal Litho 01908 270 400,
SUBSCRIPTIONS Mail order subscriptions are available in blocks of ten issues. UK & BFPO - £20; Eire & Europe - £27; Rest of the World - £34. Please make cheques payable to “The Gooner”. A list of available back issues can be viewed on our website, where it is also possible to subscribe online using a Paypal account. Visit the ‘Gooner Stall’ section at www.onlinegooner.com CONTRIBUTIONS Contributions are welcomed by e-mail to the editorial address above. All views expressed are those of the named contributor and not necessarily of the editor. The Gooner is completely independent of Arsenal FC. NEXT ISSUE: Next home match after Ipswich 2nd Leg
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Issue 210 still available We still have copies of our previous edition for sale (as well as 207-209). It can be purchased for £2 from the online Gooner Shop - see www.onlinegooner.com, by post (address above, add 50p for postage for one issue, but order more than one and all postage is free) or from the stall outside 168 Drayton Park on matchdays.