The trees are smiling at me

Writing a post about all of the good moments that Arsenal have given us is far easier than the negatives (which I gave you yesterday). I can literally rattle them off the top of my head and still never even get close to a complete list! Let’s see what I can come up with in stream of consciousness mode for the next 40 minutes.

Winning the league at old trafford, Kanu jumping over Wiltord. I bought that shirt that day and had it delivered via DHL.

Winning the FA Cup, Freddie’s red mowhawk, John Terry eating grass.

Speaking of Terry: Diaby kicking John Terry in the head. He was only trying to kick racism out of football.

Arshavin’s 4 goals.

The Beast’s hat-trick against Liverpool, which I mostly remember because my friend and owner of Doyle’s pub in Tacoma drove with me up to Seattle to watch the game because he wasn’t allowed to play it on his TVs dues to licensing or something.

My first ever Arsenal match, 2006, Charlton at Highbury. The old stadium was lustrous that cold spring morning. I’ve never felt anything like it before or after. Completely and utterly fell in love. Hleb scored.

My first away game, Liverpool – surprised about how quiet the crowd were in Anfield, they sing at the start and then sit on their hands for the remainder of the game. Szczesny saved a penalty (which Suarez won by diving) and Henderson sent Arteta to the hospital with a vicious elbow to the face. Van Persie scored the late winner right in front of us. Incredible scenes.

Away to Swansea – one of the most beautiful stadiums I’ve ever seen. Nacho Monreal scored. Probably the most sketchball day I’ve ever had though because the guy I got the tickets from was basically a coke fiend at this point and owed pretty much everyone money. I never should have been at that game but I didn’t know any better because I was incredibly naive about how football ticketing really worked. The short answer is that if you’re an American, going to see the Arsenal at an away game, you really need to be best friends with the person getting you those tickets because you’re taking tickets away from local supporters who would love to have that experience and cannot get it – legally.

We won the League at White Hart Lane! Patrick Vieira’s insane goal. To this day that’s one of my favorite ever Arsenal goals.

FA Cup, 2014. The last time I went to see Arsenal in England. Had a great day out with my friend, Adrian. Watched the match against Everton which Ozil scored in – that goal was right in front of us. Arsenal would go on to lift the FA Cup, Wenger’s first trophy in almost a decade. Ramsey scored the winner and lay on the ground his arms out by his side. I admit that I welled up a bit that day.

Speaking of Ramsey – the winner against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final.

Beating AC Milan 3-0 – the most elated I’ve ever felt at half time. I had bought the tickets well in advance of matchday and so when we lost the first leg 4-0 I thought about just giving my seat up. But then I realized that if we did win, it would be a historic moment so I went through with the whole trip. I was so buzzing that I got up at half time to have a beer only to be reminded that they only sell NA beers. Van Persie would miss a chance to go 4-0 up in the second half, and then the game petered out.

Speaking of four nils… beating Porto 4-0 at home was a crazy game that I was also privileged to go to. The Porto fans were right next to me and I’ve literally never heard anything like it. They sang the full 90 despite losing and cheered for hours before and after the game. In fact, walking up to the stadium was surreal because we could hear them cheering and singing before the match.

Beating Barcelona! Another of these games where whenever I’m asked what it’s like or to try to make sense of it all, I’m just at a loss for words. But that last goal, man, that was astonishing from Nasri and Arshavin. We probably would have won that tie, had it not been for the infamous van Persie red card.

Well that was 40 minutes. Almost no editing. There are a ton more happy memories in this old head of mine but that’s all I could spill in 40 minutes.



  1. Love your last few articles(Not a fan of the breads :). If I may, the current Arsenal form has increased your enthusiasm. I have only seen Arsenal in a stadium once, the friendly in US vs Madrid. My favourite game was the 2-0 win over Napoli. Arsenal were brilliant. I can’t remember a worst game though. Biggest disappointment is probably the season Leicester won as we had a brilliant chance.

    1. qwerty, glad you posted here. just read your post at the end of the “agony of defeat” thread and agree 100%. no way zinchenko is a better left back than tierney…especially when he’s not fully fit. it’s cute that he can pick up the ball in central areas but, if you’re a defender, your first priority is to defend. the way he defended that through ball to antony was like a midfielder. a defender would have forced rashford to play that ball directly to antony’s feet. this allows the fullback to shift to antony while delaying the attack and allowing arsenal defenders to get back. you never give up a through ball behind your defense. shamefully, all 3 goals on sunday were created from through balls.

      likewise, i agree on switching to a double-pivot when you don’t have a proper cdm. i was talking with devlin about that last week. he suggested arsenal play sambi as a lone cdm…wrong! you need your smartest, most experienced guys there. they don’t have to be career cdms. our opponents on sunday played ericksson there and i’ve never seen him at cdm. likewise, partey isn’t a career cdm. arteta wasn’t either. neither was santi cazorla. what they all were is experienced campaigners who knew how to control a game. sambi just doesn’t have enough experienced to play that role alone.

      1. Josh do you not subscribe to the idea is that if you have more control, you have to do less defending? Of course there are still moments when you have to defend, but they should be much less frequent if you control the game in the opposition half. Tierney just isn’t suited to that and because that’s Arteta’s true north, Zinchenko will always be preferred. I didn’t think Zinchenko looked overmatched physically and Antony clearly didn’t fancy taking him on. Rather, his enthusiastic progressive play from the back contributed to conceding high leverage transitions and the risk of that was enhanced in the absence of Mr. Security Blanket #5.

        Tierney would’ve played it safe and maybe that would’ve been a better plan in this game. But there’s a counterfactual there too. United would’ve let him have the ball and maybe we never get going as an attacking unit because he’s a dead end in the buildup. I confess I did want Tierney to start this game because I felt like he was better suited to tracking their runners and standing up to duels, and seemed like a safer choice for a big away fixture. In general I feel like Zin is a better choice against a team that plays a deep block or when we expect to be in control, and Tierney is better suited for a track meet or in the rare games (City, Liverpool) where we don’t expect to dominate the ball or where the counterpunch threat is massive (Spurs, United).

        I think in the ideal Arteta evolution, we close the technical gap with City and sign a central midfielder who can do all the things Xhaka does but with elite physicality to help track those types of runs that Fernandes and Eriksen were making. I don’t see Kieran Tierney being a starter in that setup because of his limitations in the buildup. But we are not there yet and I hope those lessons were learned.

  2. two of my favorite moments didn’t even happen on the pitch. the first was when i saw wenger standing next to henry holding an arsenal jersey. i screamed.

    the second was when arsenal announced the signing of van persie; once again, i screamed.

    the third was during the invincibles season and after being knocked out of the fa cup and the champions league in that same week, arsenal were playing liverpool and henry picked up that ball and dribbled the entire liverpool defense to score a magnificent solo goal. i stood up, threw my remote on the couch, put my hands on my hips, and stared at the television. henry simply refused to lose again.

    the fourth was when arshavin scored the 4th goal against liverpool; once again, i screamed.

    an honorable mention goes to samir nasri’s goal against porto. it was sweet because porto’s whole strategy in the first leg was to rotationally foul cesc fabregas…and it was effective. however, right before kickoff, wenger gave an interview where he said that cesc hadn’t travelled for the game. i laughed out loud because i was pretty sure porto’s plan was to rotationally foul fabregas again. however, without fabregas, what was their plan? brilliant from wenger. the icing on the cake was the nasri goal.

  3. 2 fabulous posts Tim. I started following arsenal around 2003 but back then the only way to watch English football was on fox soccer channel and they had very little content.

    In the prior post you talked about several dives that went against us. To be fair we have had a few go for us. Eboue’s dive on the right flank to win the free kick where Sol Campbell scored our goal against Barca in the champions league final was one of the most obvious dives I have ever seen. Google Eboue dive in champions league final if you want to see it. The problem was just like most plays you could only see what a dive it was with 1 camera angle. I don’t remember any Arsenal fans complaining about Eboue cheating.

  4. We wouldn’t have had a 49 game unbeaten streak without the Bobby Pires dive that won a pen and a draw vs Portsmouth in 2003.

    I think fans of every team believe they have a lot more bad calls and dives against them and arsenal fans love conspiracy theories. There is no way to prove it either way but I bet we would be well within the Gaussian bell curve distribution for wrong calls for and against

    1. Maybe in the 00’s we were still getting preferential treatment but it sure hasn’t felt like that for a long, long time.

  5. We have the advantage of multiangle slow motion replays while the refs have a split second to make those sort of calls and they are at the mercy of the viewing angle they have. That play where Eboue went down would have looked completely different from the viewing angle of the ref saw the play from and its not surprising he made such a bad call. I think that explains the majority of the really bad calls like that one.

    1. Wow. That was a bit of a downer. Might have been better suited in the prior article … 🙂

    1. This is not on Tuchel. We’re 6 games into the season, ffs. Way too early. By this measure, our guy would not have survived a year in the job. Anyway, Im glad that Potter is getting a shot (or a look in). Deserved. One of the smartest English coaches around.

    2. Ha. Yeah, Chelsea are a mess. And the guy Auba moved there to work with again just got booted.
      Interesting the he was often cited as the manager Arsenal should have hired instead of Arteta. They overperformed a little to win the CL at the start of his tenure, but since then, haven’t really been much better than us.

      1. I’ll take “overperformed” to a Champions League trophy (lol), 3rd last season and 6th after 6 games, Alex 🙂

        1. Exactly. He came in when they weren’t going to make the Champions League.. won it for them.. and kept them in the top 4 while winning the Super cup and club world cup.

          I think I’d prefer that to falling out of Europe, and still failing to make the CL.

          that said, I’ve never quite taken to tuchel. I don’t know why.

          1. He isn’t everyone’s flavour. No one is. I had no feeling for him one way or the other, but I respect him a coach. Even if one doesn’t like him and we can see clearly that something isnt clicking at Chelsea on the field or in the transfer market; it was curious timing. It’s early in the season, to the point of ridiculous. Not one of my blues friends agrees with it. Perhaps Kante’s Inferno can chime in.

          2. The Super Cup and Club World Cup don’t mean a whole lot. Yes, they won the CL, but they were hardly dominant in doing so. If Rudiger doesn’t injure DeBruyne in a poor challenge, City could well have won that.
            And until our collapse at the end of the last season, we could very well have pipped them to 3rd, with a team in rebuilding mode. And the only reason they are in 6th was a VAR call far worse than the one on us. Sorry, aside from his work at Dortmund, not that impressed.
            In any case, the story in the Guardian said that he was barely on speaking terms with the owner…not a recipe for success.

          3. That is super strange since every one of the big podcast reporters were saying that Tuchel and Boehly had a lot of conversations and that Tuchel was often heavily consulted and even listened to in terms of transfers. ESPN paints the picture that Boehly actually backed the German manager quite a bit.


          4. SLC, since when do you have to be “dominant” in the Champions League for it to count? How is this dominance effected? Tonking everyone 3-0? You cant be serious.

            you say: “until our collapse at the end of the last season, we could very well have pipped them to 3rd…”

            I agree, my bro. Especially with “collapse”. Let’s enjoy our Europa game.

  6. I think Tuchel is a good coach. That said, a lot of coaches are good enough to win the Champions League with Chelsea. He started this season with a weird formation change that wasn’t working at all (but he persisted with it) and then had that awful interaction with Conte; it’s almost like he was sabotaging his way out. They’re an awful mess.

  7. Watching Spurs vs. Marseilles. I legitimately thought the French club was at home, such is their technical superiority and control of this match (and their fans are louder). Arsenal expats Guendouzi (drawing boos) and Nuno started. Nuno is clearly the technical weak link and they’re using him as a wide left outlet and counter attacking threat, no role in the buildup. Guendouzi as per normal is absolutely everywhere, but somehow they rotate well enough that it hasn’t bit them yet. Spurs look like a trash team.

  8. Squad depth that includes Guen and Saliba would likely have made up the 3 points by which we fell short of CL qualification.

    Both played major roles in getting Marseilles to CL

    Spurs are the team that benefitted from our personnel decisions, and the result of falling short

    Marseilles are playing Spurs.

    Enough irony here to break my brain.

  9. alexis sanchez and sead kolasinac are at marseille too. they’ll be roaring to beat the old foe.

        1. He’s playing really well in Marseille and always loved the big stages. I think he really would have cared but maybe not for the reasons we think.

  10. Doc on 9/7/22 @12:20

    I don’t believe we got preferential treatment early in this century nor do I believe we were targeted for non preferential treatment since then. Bad calls in our favor and going against us have been part of football forever. We were more successful as a team earlier in this century so there was no reason to focus on the bad calls against us. It’s human nature to focus a lot more on the bad calls against when our results are not as good


    Auba’s.goal scoring had been on a downward trajectory for 1 1/2 seasons when we moved him and he needed a change of scenery. There was no good reason to think he would have started scoring again in our line up. Many fans believed we became a better team when Laca took over. Barca moved him this season for a small fee for a reason. . It will be interesting to see what Abu does this year with Chelsea

    1. I think you underestimate the power of implicit bias. A completely neutral set of outcomes that you describe where the number of decisions for/against a club are completely even would be the outcome of robots officiating. Even if decisions mathematically even out, not all decisions carry the same weight in the same context. For example, a referee with a strong Northern bias may well give Arsenal a penalty at home against Southampton with Arsenal up 3-1 in the PL, but might swallow his whistle for the same situation away at Bolton in a tie game of the semifinals of the FA cup. You might say that’s one penalty given, and one not: evens out. I say that’s two penalties, only one of which was given, and the less important one at that.

      I saw a graphic on Twitter that plotted the birthplaces of all current referees on a map of England. About 75% are from the North, most of those in the Liverpool/Manchester area. Even if they don’t hold any affinity for those particular clubs, it still absolutely colors their perceptions around the game.

      Google Tim Donaghy, an NBA ref who tipping gamblers off to the likely outcomes of close games for years because he knew the proclivities of his fellow referees. The PL is no different. Refs are not robots and they’re not saints and they don’t officiate completely impartially, even if they try to.

    2. Bill, the situation with Aubameyang is more nuanced than you make it out to be.

      Aubameyang broke the half season scoring record for Barcelona. It suggests that his problem with Arteta ran deeper than his abilities. When he left Arsenal, he was the leading scorer among strikers despite his slump. When the season ended, he was the second leading scorer among strikers, eclipsing the aforementioned Lacazette. The argument that Tim is making in response to mine (and he’s right) is that we weakened the squad, and it cost us. You seem to believe that Auba had zero value. His time in Spain showed us that he still had tremendous value. He could have helped us — even in a bench role — make up those 3 points by which we failed. Arteta cut his nose to spite his face.

      And for what? Did you watch the AoN docs? What were Auba’s crimes? More serious than alleged rape, given the nuclear reaction? Hopefully Arteta wont weaken the squad again to prove the size of his cojones, and is improving as a manager. He’s very lucky not to have Todd Boehly at the top of the Arsenal organisation.

      In a player sale, it requires 3 willing parties… club, club and player. Auba chose to leave because he wanted to be reunited with a manager he got on with, who got the best out of him (life comes at you fast, hey?) — and because of game time.

      Auba, despite his goalscoring feats, was not getting starts because of the superior, newly arrived Lewandowski. Barca has a feast of attacking options. Auba is guaranteed to start every week at Chelsea. Xavi wanted all his options, and wanted to keep Auba. Financially troubled Barca sensed a market opportunity. Auba sensed an opportunity for regular starts. Win win win.

      Arteta and Edu’s “management can do no wrong” defenders should be quiet about Barca getting £15 for a player they got for free, whose wage Arsenal subsidised, and who who proved he still had ability and market value. Take a seat on this one.

      1. I’m fully aware of Auba’s decline and by no means was he an elite striker anymore but it’s undeniable that we literally paid Auba 8m to go score goals for Barcelona (which he did because Xavi accommodated his needs as an ageing striker, asking him to do less and just score goals), while Barcelona paid him almost no salary, got into the Champions League LITERALLY because of Auba’s goals, and then Barcelona sold him to Chelsea for 12m.

        ALL WHILE ARSENAL MISSED OUT ON CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BY THREE POINTS AND LOST TO SOUTHAMPTON AND BRIGHTON (where we had good xG superiority but were unable to score goals).

        At this point, I’m not changing my mind and there’s no reason to discuss this further. I get that we never know what would have happened had we kept Auba but we absolutely know that he wasn’t quite a thrashed resource and that the club made a number of mistakes that winter which in all likelihood cost Arsenal something in the range of 70m (loss on paying off his contract, loss on missing out on CL, and loss on his transfer).

  11. Doc

    As a medical professional you know how easy it is to get the wrong answer in any study if you use nothing but anecdotal evidence rather then having double blind studies with an adequate control group. The chance of getting the wrong answer is increases exponentially when the person who is evaluating that anecdotal evidence has a predetermined bias. You can convince yourself that ivermectin is effective in covid cases if you read a couple of people talking about it on the internet. Almost every fan wants to believe their team gets more bad calls against because they focus on those and dismiss the ones that go for. For example the 4-4 Newcastle game with Rosicky penalty we talked about in the prior post I remember at least 1 of the goals we scored was very clearly offsides and should not have counted but no one wants to remember that. Bottom line its almost inevitable we will come to the conclusion that we get anti-preferential treatment because we will use anecdotal evidence to convince ourselves of what we want to believe. Just like in a medical study you can find what you are looking for

    1. yes confirmation bias is very real, referees have that too. i do take your point that we remember the calls that go against us more than the ones that go for us, i think thats a wise observation.

      in the specific game you reference, there were two penalties agaist Arsenal. even if one of our goals was offside, thats on the linesman, not generosity from the ref. that doesnt sway me at all thtat he was impartial. i’m not sitting here suggesting that PGMOL sit around debating how they can screw Arsenal. i think it’s simpler than that. referees just got used to treating us a certain way and that hasnt changed. it’s culture. maybe its because we complained too much about shawcross and taylor or because we had a french manager or because we tried to play pretty football. doesnt matter why. once rthe referees’ hive mind accepted that arsenal were soft and that they were complainers that was it. and theyve carried that implicit bias since then. my theory. cant prove it. but its the best explanation for what ive seen in 15 years of following this great club.

  12. Doc @ 8:22AM

    I understand your point but I think you overestimate the north vs south potential bias. If that was the case then all of the southern teams would be on the wrong end of the ref calls and I have never heard anyone on any blog suggest that Chelsea or Spurs are getting consistently wronged by the refs.

  13. Doc

    The other thing to consider about the whole northern vs southern debate is a ref from the Everton part of Merseyside in theory would have a subconscious bias against Liverpool and probably the Manchester teams and one from the Liverpool part of Merseyside would clearly have disliked Everton and ManU. I assume a ref who grew up in the Arsenal part of North London would have a bias against Spurs and Chelsea and that ref would not give subconscious preferential treatment to those southern teams over the northern teams. Everyone who grew up not being a Liverpool fan in the years when they were dominant should have been against Liverpool because they would have most likely believed that Liverpool were the team who got all of the breaks. Anyone who grew up a fan of any team other then ManU during the Ferguson era would have probably disliked ManU because the prevailing theory was the refs were afraid of Fergie and giving ManU all the calls. The bottom line to me is the whole ref subconscious bias theory based on where they grew up falls apart when you start to actually think about it. Just like in medicine if you start with a conclusion and then look for evidence to support that conclusion you will find it. I suspect most fans don’t want to believe there is an active conspiracy with people being paid off so we as Arsenal fans are looking for a reasons to explain and confirm our belief that we get a lot more of the bad calls and the northern ref is the best we can come up with so we hang on to that

    With regard to the Tim Donagy he made a lot of money from the gamblers by suggesting that he somehow knew certain refs tendencies. He had a very good reason to convince the gamblers that he knew something no one else did. Gamblers would be desperate to believe he could somehow give them an advantage. I don’t have any idea if what he was selling actually was useful and if his tips actually helped the gamblers. If what he said were true you would think that crunching numbers with a few years of easily obtainable data would have discovered the correlation with certain refs and results long before Tim Donaghy came along.

  14. RIP, Your Maj.

    Arsenal’s most famous supporter has passed. Some dispute about whether she’s a West Ham fan, but reports of her being one of us seem credible. Cesc said that she told him so.

  15. Claude

    Auba scored 11 goals in 17 Barcelona league appearances. Its hard for me to believe that Messi never scored more then 11 goals in half a season.

    You said many times last season that moving Auba was the best thing for both the player and both teams. Part of what Edu and Arteta did was move out players who were no longer producing at a level that could justify their wages and moving away from players who were not part of the long term plan. Changing teams reinvigorated Auba for a short time but suggesting that he could have helped Arsenal last season is a stretch given what he had been doing for the last 1 1/2 season and if Barcelona really believed that he could significantly improve their squad significantly this year they probably would not have sold him for $11M. Correct me if I am wrong but Auba and Lewandowski played very well together in Dortmund and if Barca really thought Auba could significantly improve their team they would not have sold him for $11M.

    It will be interesting to see how Auba does this year for Chelsea

    1. Tim’s point was that the manager weakened the squad and its Champions League campaign by kicking out his leading striker, and he’s right. Im kind of nonplussed watching Spurs take our place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and watching us labour to a win over Zurich an hour ago; throwing on players we need to rest. You have to excuse me… it’ll take me a while to get over our self inflicted wound.

      At the point at which he was exiled, Auba wasn’t even allowed to meet with his teammates. I don’t mean to be funny, but i do wish sometimes you read more reporting around the stuff you comment on. Read Bernd Leno’s comments in the past 2 days to Bild. Things had got so bad for Aubameyang, that they seemingly did everything short of locking him out of the club’s facilities. Moving was the best thing for all parties, given that Arteta went nuclear on him. The situation was unsustainable. I believed that then, and I still do.

      I like Auba both as a person and a player (and Xavi clearly did), but if Im Barcelona, Im biting Chelsea’s hand off, given the deep financial trouble Im in.

      Auba could have chosen to sit on his money at Arsenal… he didnt. He could have chosen to play 15 minutes a game at Barca… he didnt. I respect him for choosing a club playing in a Champions League, for a manager he knew and respected… if only for one game, as things turned out. Plus, I suspect that he reckons that he has a score or three to settle in London. Don’t discount that.

      Transfers dont work how you think they do. Tuchel is not bidding for the player if the player does not signal to him that he’d be open to coming. And if Chelsea dont bid, they and Barca dont have a sale agreement. We’ve gone over that dynamic many times over many years in this forum. Transfers aren’t only about the selling club. If they were, we’d be totally rid of all of the players that Mikel dont need. They’d not be on loan after loan, year after year.

      We will never know how things would otherwise have gone for our campaign. But whatever the extent of his struggles, it is ridiculous for you to say that Auba offered no value at all to Arsenal, even off the bench.

      p.s. your transfer figure is correct… mine was off by a few millions 🙏🏽

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