Earlier today I took a trip to the grim outreaches of Holloway, the most recent in a string of homes for our nomadic friends and London rivals Arsenal. Surveying the rubbish dump now known as the Emirates Stadium I came across Darren Bowser, Editor & Founder of www.arsenal-land.co.uk and took the opportunity to quiz him on his side and the weekend’s biggest game.
Cutting straight to the chase, what do you think of your performances so far this season?
At times extremely strong and encouraging for the future, we have shown we can beat big teams on big occasions. However we have an ability still to stall which has happened in the previous four Premier League matches and I think that has been down to thin resources through injury and perhaps squad depth and as well a lack of know how to win games when our passing and movement is not at a top level, that leads to teams being able to get men behind the ball quickly but we need to work out how to win in those scenarios.
Is Billy Gallas the right man to captain your side at the moment, how do you view his apparent lack of backbone?
I think William Gallas is a passionate player and winner, he will speak his mind and I view that’s as being extremely healthy. He did not act in a completely professional way after the Birmingham match and yes he lost his head somewhat, a lot of fans did after what happened that day.
What do you think of Chelsea, as if we needed to ask? Are we now seeing the down side of having a multi-billionaire fan as owner? Do you think that Avram Grant can move us forward?
Avram Grant has done okay to date for his first season in charge, he has surpassed my expectations but the question is has he surpassed Roman’s? I think Grant needs a cup and victories over his rivals to convince. I don’t any future manager under Roman will enjoy time and freedom to do his job but as you say that is the price of being owned by a less than creditable character with little understanding of the game intent upon being in the limelight.
What was your view on the Eduardo/Taylor clash – did the punishment fit the crime?
Unfortunately the English game prides itself on fight and guts, phrases like ‘don’t like it up ’em’ and ‘get stuck in’ are part of the culture of English football. Until we learn to embrace technique, skill and vision above those fore mentioned attributes we won’t get anywhere on a national level. The Taylor challenge was more about the fact this was an accident waiting to happen than about who did it, to the press these kind of tackles are acceptable and to the FA are treated with at most a 3 match ban. Last year we lost Diaby for 9 months and now Eduardo for a similar term or more, so the question is when are the FA going to issue bans that match the danger of the tackle or is any level of physicality fair game?
Should Arsene have put out such a weak side at Old Trafford in the cup? Did the manner of your defeat hand the Premier League initiative to Salford?
I don’t believe Arsene Wenger had much choice with 9 or 10 players missing to be honest. The manner of the defeat was more a factor of the mindset of the players who knew as Wenger did that the club didn’t have the resources to win that game. We were not helped by the fact Manchester United flooded an already water logged pitch. I don’t think the game had much bearing on our recent league form to be honest, but had more to do with the cause of why we lost the game so heavily which is the fore mentioned lack of available players to select from which has resulted in Wenger being forced to select from 16 players for 2-3 months now.
Which of your current squad do you most admire?
Francesc Fabregas because he does not behind the fact that he is young but instead revels in the responsibility placed upon him. I have a lot of admiration for Gael Clichy who has been by far the best left back in the country this season, also Flamini and Adebayor have given a great deal for the cause.
What’s more important to the fans at the Emirates, a Champions League victory or lifting the Premiership title again?
The Premier league is most important because it proves that your team is the best in the league and that much enforces belief and inspire further victories for the club. The Champions League represents a fantastic prize however and it would be fitting for Wenger to achieve that goal prior to the end of his career.
Where will you finish this season?
Well a lot depends obviously on the results against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. We have games against all three ahead in the league and could yet face all 3 in the champions league too. We need to dig deep now to play ourselves into form but I am encouraged that we did so against Milan and have found the resources at key moments this season against the big teams. The fact that bigger teams will come out to play against Arsenal rather than plug the goal could actually work to our advantage. Each of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United can win it, that’s all I will say.
What about Chelsea?
Again the games between the top 3 can have a huge bearing as will the toll of the Champions League fixtures.
Give us a score prediction.
And jinx the whole thing? Oh no!
And with that, I left Darren in his own red & white world, happy to get back to a more blue, if not more serene place. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Darren with a frown on his face by 6 p.m. on Sunday. Big thanks go out to him for his time. Cheers mate!