Tuesday, May 30, 2023

As a neutral I don’t mind who wins – As a football fan, I hope it’s Arsenal

Graham Fisher in Editorial, English Premier League 27 Feb 2011


A trophy at last?

The first final of the season sees Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal take on Alex McLeish’s Birmingham. The two sides step out at Wembley later in the Carling Cup final. It is a game between a team that play football the way it is meant to be played, and Birmingham.


I’m sorry, that was really harsh on Birmingham who thoroughly deserve their place in the final. They are a side who are battling to stay in the Premier League and McLeish has found a style of play that he believes will enable them to do so. That is his job, and what he will be judged on, and who am I to question him?

Unfortunately, the style that Birmingham use is not too pleasing on the eye and therefore not great for the neutral. They tend to play with a lone striker, although they have recently played with two, and that lone striker is horribly isolated. It means they are compact and difficult to break down, but it also means that as an attacking force they are not a joy to watch. Set pieces become the only real threat they possess.


They have scored less goals than anyone else in the Premier League, finding the net just twenty-five times in twenty-six games. Defensively they are not too bad and have only conceded thirty-six goals. Those facts speak for themselves really and back up what I am saying. It isn’t pretty to watch.

Arsenal are still competing on four fronts. They have this final and they are second in the Premier League, establishing themselves as the only serious threat to Manchester United. Things look a little tougher in the other two competitions as they face a trip to Old Trafford in the FA Cup if they beat Leyton Orient and take a slender 2-1 lead to the
Camp Nou in the Champions League. Even so, you would say that they are still in with a shout in all four competitions.


As we all know, four trophyless seasons have passed at the Emirates and the pressure is on Arsene Wenger to bring some silverware home this time around. This game today surely represents a fantastic chance to do just that. It seems unlikely that Cesc Fabregas or Theo Walcott will be able to play a part, but their squad is strong enough to withstand those big losses.

Arsenal play a brand of football that can be fantastic for the neutral to watch. Wenger has his philosophy on football and nothing and noone is going to change the way he thinks and the way he wants his teams to play. It can be frustrating because they can be over elaborate and the cutting edge can be missing. Having said that, it can be quick, direct and ruthless as well, as Barcelona found out when they thought they had
done enough in the game a couple of weeks ago.


I have no reason to either like or dislike either of the sides in this game and I am truly a neutral. As a football fan, however, I hope that Arsenal win the game. I can’t see Birmingham suddenly playing an expansive, pass and move type of game, and nor should they as Arsenal would tear them apart if they did so. They will try to stop Wenger’s men
playing. I hope they don’t manage to do that as I think an Arsenal win would be better for the game.

It would also be nice to see Wenger win something and get his critics off his back. I’ve never been his biggest fan but I admire what he stands for and what he has done for the game in England. He deserves to see the door of the trophy cabinet at the Emirates, opened at long last.


Graham Fisher



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12 years ago

Yes I agree that it would be great for Arsenal to get that monkey off their shoulders and win a trophy; just to silence the critics who keep banging on about it, conveniently forgetting that Wenger has literally built a squad from scratch and on a pittance compared to his direct competitors, whilst building a world-class support without govt subsidy and still managing to turn a profit at the same time! They also conveniently forget that they’re one of the most consistent teams, regularly reaching Champions League, FA Cup Finals, SFs and QFs and are the only other team besides… Read more »

12 years ago

“whilst building a world-class support”

I meant “building a world-class stadium without govt support or subsidy”

12 years ago

Yesterday Wenger shoot me out of goal cross bar
by loosing carling final

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