Arsenal Gentleman’s Weekly Review

Arsenal Gentleman's Weekly Review

It’s going to happen

Chelsea are going to win the English League this year and we all know it. Who would have thought that back in 2003, when the U.S.S.R.’s Mr. Abramovich first had the notion to spend a billion pounds creating a football team in west London to give QPR and Fulham a run for their money that one day they would win the league. ‘Fair play’ to them (those quotation marks are deliberate), that’s what I say. I don’t normally give a gypsy’s toot who wins it when it’s not The Arsenal, but I would prefer almost anyone to that band of reeking, sheep-biting, clapper-brained apple-johns lead by that preening coxcomb Mr. Mourinho, the enemy of football.

Interim review

Let us not dwell on those blue-shirted flap-dragons. As we near the vinegar strokes of the season, we should reflect on some things are turning out well, some which are turning out exceedingly well and others, not so well.

We shall begin with the latter.

Mr. Dolby, I am afraid that it is now time, after 25 years of loyal service to Woolwich, during which time you started four games, coming off injured in three of them, that you shuffle off to a retirement sanatorium. Your gout, your elephantiasis, your arthritis, your malaria, your knee-knack, your rotating head syndrome, your non-athlete’s foot, your pulpating sphincter and your frequent bouts of typhus, bird flu, weeping sickness, sunstroke, jogger’s nipple and duodenal acne have defeated our medical staff. You seem like a decent sort of chap but thank you and goodbye. Mr. Sesley. Dear Mr. Sesley. Once so confident. So swaggering. Now a gibbering wreck. Has the time come for him to be carried off to the County Asylum? Or will he simply tug on a Woodbine and fight for his place? If Mr. Lloris attempts Jennings’ Escape*

Things that are turning out well include Mr. Dai ‘The Off Spinner’ Ramsden, our Welsh cricketing international proving himself a worthy glove butler. Harry Bell, our little Mag-Lev bullet train has been a forehead-slapping revelation up and down the right flank. Mr. Pallister, our dour-faced Naked Buccaneer, has been giving us a glimpse of how that central pairing of sentinels might work next term. Mr Wele has shown signs of being able to terrorise back lines.

Exceedingly well? Do I really need to commit their heaven-born names to paper? Mr. Orwell, newly sturdy from gymnasium work and brimming with righteous confidence, has delighted the faithful. The Mesmertrons** have been frequent. Indeed, such is his ability to locate, he found both the lost City of Gold and Atlantis during half-time at Wembley last week. And Mr. Saunders, dear little fizzing wind-up berserker Mr. Saunders. Imagine having to play against the little blighter. If he were a detective sergeant at The Yard he’d have the suspect confessing to whatever he pleased. He’d be good cop, bad cop, angry cop, sad cop, terrifying cop, hiding cop, jumping cop and screaming cop all at once.

A full season’s review will follow in May.


As is traditional, Woolwich made heavy going against tiny underdogs Reading Football Club. As someone pointed out in this morning’s periodicals, is it really possible to be an underdog when you are sponsored by a national supermarket chain? Anyhoo. This is a team managed by Steve Clarke, and as you would expect from his chequered past, he set his team up to contain, to suppress, and to cheat, hurt and foul, but not in a way that would expose them to meaningful bookings.

This is quite an art, this ‘gentle fouling’. To kick, but not too hard. To trip, but not in any dangerous areas. To shove, but then to raise one’s arms in innocence. All traits we shall no doubt see this Sunday coming. To give them their credit, Reading were spirited and lively, and their glove butler was superb until he wasn’t quite superb. Despite Arsenal’s best efforts to induce 40,000 stress-related injuries to those of us on the crowd, I never really felt it was in doubt. I was much more concerned regarding the suspicious contents of my five guinea ‘balti pie’, a fragrant Empire hybrid of Great Britain and India. Like a Whitechapel lady of the night, it is best to not think about what’s been inside them and just enjoy the moment.

We return to this enormous shabby steel-clad hellhole in Berkshire next month to retain the FA Cup against not Liverpool FC (Five Times, All Hail), but Aston Villa. The last side to win two FA Cups in a row? Arsenal. Before  that? Good old Middlesex Wanderers in 1961 and 1962, years regarded by scholars of foot-ball as the weakest in memory.

A word on Liverpool. We note that Mr. Sterling, so upright a player that he looks like he has a rifle up his jacksie, was recently photographed inhaling Nitrous Oxide, or laughing gas. I saw this very much as a metaphor for Liverpool’s relationship with the Premier League. We have all been inhaling English Football’s laughing gas, Liverpool, for years. Breathe deep! Inhale! Collapse into unstoppable laughter! Stevie G’s birthday! Inhale! Enormous picture of yourself in your own home! Inhale! Balotelli! Inhale! Rickie Lambert! HA HA HA HA HA. Keep it up, Liverpool. Keep filling those balloons for us.

He’s back

On Mr. Fabington’s return, I would just like to say that I hope he gets the greeting he deserves as someone who went on strike to force a move away from Woolwich. He was a wonderful player, but turned out to be a traitorous guttersnipe in the end. Still, the sell-on fee was warmly welcomed and went toward the delightful Whizzbang Saunders & Mr. Orwell, who is certainly an upgrade on Young Master Cesc. So thank you, Mr. Fabington. Thank you.

To end, here is the extraordinary internal Chelsea memo to which I referred earlier. Roll on Sunday.

* The route for those escaping from Tottenham Hotspur. Also known as Campbell’s Joy.
** Orwell’s signature through ball, which renders opposition defenders motionless through hypnosis.


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