By Hunter Tighe
WOW! What a trip. During my first stint in London, I saw the Arsenal play a Premier League game, an FA-Cup tie, and a Champions League knock-out round match. I saw a win, a loss, and a draw, and plenty of Drama. I saw a team do everything they can to get results, a manager struggle to find solutions while the results and a key to the solution are played out in front of his eyes 3 times a week, and 60,000 minds and voices watch, analyze, and support with helpless yet deep passion and desire. And for the venue, it’s less of a visit, more of an experience.
When you visit the Emirates to take a tour, they start you out correctly. The first thing you’ll encounter are busts of current and former Chairman and managers. The men who built the rich tradition at Arsenal Football Club. Yes, Arsene Wenger was a huge part of the intro, as he should be. He is the reason the level of expectation is so high at Arsenal. Next you’ll see some interesting art and photos from the years in which we won major honors. It was very humbling to see all that has been accomplished and how often we could keep that up back then. The tours next step is the Owners’ Box and your fist Glimpse at the pitch and the intimidation of the size of the Stadium. It is truly a glorious site. Sitting in the seats labelled Stan Kroenke, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind owning this club one day!” who wouldn’t. But it was the behind the scenes aspects that really got me thinking about our manager. In the dressing room everyone has a seat but him. He’s running around checking on the boys on the training table, talking tactics with Bouldy, making sure things are done in a timely manner before during and after the match. We as fans can’t possibly imagine to know the inner details of the squad like he does. He’s responsible to his team, the media, the board, and most importantly I feel, in his eye’s, the fans. All we can do is trust in our manager, repay him for the many great things he’s done at this club, with and without the great legends that have come through during his tenure.
The product I saw on the field was top tier. Highly trained football playing machines passed with precision, reacted in the blink of an eye, and a select few struck the ball well when opportunities arose. The fews great strikes I was able to see came from the Ox, Podolski, Cazorla, and yes Yaya Sanogo. While not all went in goal, they all showed the hard work they’re putting in at the training ground is paying off. I was appreciative to see that, and excited for the future of one in particular, Yaya, yayayaya, Yaya Sanogo! This guy shows promise. Winning everything, literally, kicked his way in the air, he showed he can flick on, hold the ball, pass in the final third just as well if not better than Giroud. He’s got that young kid rust, but I saw nothing that wasn’t in an effort to put someone in for a shot on goal, and when he gets the chance, he’ll put it on target. He was very accurate. All these attributes will only improve with Pitch-time. Sunderland and Stoke would be perfect opportunities for him, I think. I hope he gets his chances this season, because he will score goals for us and I feel many during his time at the club. Glad to see young stars are still on the rise.
From speaking with fellow fans at the Emirates, leadership is our biggest issue, and there’s not a big Wenger out voice at the Stadium. Who is our captain and why? I think sources will tell you it’s officially Thomas Vermaelen. That would beg the question, “Why do we have a captain who can’t make it into the squad?” The only thing I can imagine, is that Wenger may want to inspire a triumphant return? I really don’t know. I think we need a captain whose position is firmly in place, is a strong leader on the pitch, has a passion for the club and fans, and is overall successful at what he does. Three names scream out in my head: Per Mertesacker, Mathieu Flamini, and one Jack Wilshere. Jack is young, but after watching and analyzing Mesut Ozil’s penalty miss against Bayern, I thought what could we have done differently? What do other teams do in that situation? They have Legends. Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard take penalties for their respective clubs in clutch situations. Why because they gladly carry the responsibilities of the team and the hopes and dreams of the fans on their shoulders, and are too proud to achieve anything less than a positive result. All of these “legends” who are solid rocks for their clubs started out young. If we want to produce a legend ourselves, a solid rock for our team in the future, I think the captaincy along with other responsibilities should go to Jack, Kiss the badge and never leave, Wilshere. Not only would it unify us this season to have someone to look to and trust in tough situations, it will solidify him as a future great for Arsenal and England.
Along with some perspective, this trip gave me an even bigger passion for my club. I think that’s what being a supporter is about; it’s an ever-growing un-ending passion, isn’t it? A bit unfortunate our injury situation, but I have full belief we can win a double this year after the performances I’ve experienced with 60,000 other Gooners. It was a positive voyage with an unfortunate ending. Cheers to, what I’m sure will be, an exciting run-in. #ComeOnYouGunners
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Gooners from Oklahoma share their views and insights about Arsenal Football Club!