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All Things Footie | Thursday, August 26 | Jordan


Was I going to be able to go through today and NOT say something about a certain record that was torn to shreds last night? Unlikely. Can I hold back the patheticly gushing admiration I have for Arsenal, Arsène Wenger and the players that achieved this remarkable feat? Again, unlikely.

Wenger is special. There are some wonderful players at Arsenal, but beating Nottingham Forest’s record is more to do with the man in charge than anything else. More than Arsenal. More than Thierry Henry. More than Patrick Vieira. More than David Dein. True, without Dein—and without the others mentioned—we wouldn’t be witnessing this incredible turn of events, and Wenger would undoubtably be bestowing his gifts on a club in another country (for no English Chairman would have taken the punt that Dein took on an unknown foreign intellectual). It’s all about the man in charge; his methods, his players, his team. To say Arsenal were shrewd in signing up the little-known and very un-English Frenchman would perhaps be the biggest understatement in the history of British football. He’s transformed the club, and more importantly, the face of the game in it’s country of origin for ever.

How significant is the achievement of going 43 games unbeaten, including one full league season? Who knows? Numbers are just numbers after all, and people will remember the team far more vividly than any statistic. So lets put the achievement in perspective. Is the league stronger now than in the sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties? Well, while there is certainly less uncertainty about the top three than there has been—perhaps ever—before, the remaining 17 teams are, in my opinion, far stronger than those in pervious years. More money, more talent and more glamour is associated with clubs that languish in the bottom half of the table than ever before. Teams like Bolton have players like Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro and Jay Jay Okotcha. Man City have the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Southampton have a glut of international footballers, as do Aston Villa—and even Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace can boast a few International players. Like it or not, thanks mostly to Rupert Murdoch and the kind of influences that most true fans loathe in football, The top league in England is better than it’s ever been. Better players, more internationals, more evenly spread about the clubs, more uncertain (beyond the top three or four) than ever before.

Upsets are more common. We don’t see points records being beaten every season, teams getting relegated are picking up more points than ever before, there’s often no more than five points between ten places in the table. The top teams are not regularly going on long unbeaten runs. Apart from one.

Arsenal’s achievement in going 43 games without defeat in the Premiership—playing every side at least twice—marks them down as the greatest side ever to grace the league. In the history of English football, with all the clubs, all the successful spells, all the domination by different teams, no club have ever achieved this before. With all due respect to Clough’s side of the 70s (and I do stress the with respect—I’m a huge admirer of Clough and his teams), Arsenal had already surpassed that side in football terms before reaching the 43rd game. It’s an admirable quality to have a side determined to not lose, as was the modus operandi of Clough’s Nottingham Forest, but Arsenal have gone a step further in being a side determined to—and able to—win every game. Even the most cynical Arsenal hating pundit (James Lawton, you hapless, pathetic, bitter little runt, I’m looking at you) must admit that they’ve done it in some considerable style. 94 goals in those 43 games (and an amazing twelve in the last three) have cemeted a style of play, an attacking vigour and a swashbuckling joi de vivre on anyone who’s had the considerable pleasure of watching them.

Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Dennis Bergkamp—some of the best players to grace the 12 years of the Premiership, and all of them playing in one team. Not to mention Francesc Fabregas and José Reyes, who are making their marks as we speak.

It’s a pleasure and an honour to have seen this team strut their stuff as often as I have, and as often as even the most casual football fan will have caught them. Anyone having a whinge, or talking about trophies missed or matches not-won should wash their eyes out with battery acid—to not apperciate the quality and achievements of this side is to deny yourself the simple pleasure of watching football played as you never thought it could be.

Footnote If one player must be singled out for praise, it’s worth bearing in mind that in three games so far this season, Thierry Henry has scored three goals, and set up six. He’s quite, quite remarkable.

(21) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11:28 AM
luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10:02 PM
Luogo molto buon:) Buona fortuna!
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1:34 PM
E evidente che il luogo e stato fatto dalla persona che realmente conosce il mestiere!
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10:30 PM
luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 4:56 PM
Lo trovo piuttosto impressionante. Lavoro grande fatto..)
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Stupore! ho una sensibilit� molto buona circa il vostro luogo!!!!
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