"An Ode to Football" by Musa Okwonga

Commemorating its 150th anniversary, The FA reached out to our friend Musa Okwonga to create a poem that captures England’s love for the game, from a grassroots level to the top flight, embracing the emotions experienced by football fans around the country. Joining Musa in the poem are the likes of Arsene Wenger, Theo Walcott, Dizzee Rascal, and Steven Gerrard. Not bad company to keep.

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The Strain of Loyalty


The drumming noises have been those of betrayal and mercenarism. Once heroes, even captains, these men have been crucified in the memories of long-suffering Arsenal fans as Adams, lured by rival teams, their equivalent of the forbidden fruit. They see it as unfair competition, those with a monetary largesse abusing their ability to offer some degree of wage multiplication. Whether the Manchester sides and Barcelona can be considered present-day rivals to Arsenal is highly debatable for the simple fact that the Londoners are no longer the force they once were. Those traitors moved to ascend the footballing hierarchy. They moved to attain success, amongst other intangibles.

They were replaced, to the best of the Arsenal powers of seduction. Germans and Spaniards came in to replace the Dutch- and Frenchmen. Even Thierry Henry, however ageing, returned once and is about to do so again. The Arsenalisms of fiscal austerity would do Merkel proud, but represent a 21st century footballing failure of insight. For all of Wenger’s nous, this seems a painful misstep. Despite this, his team has replicated top-four finishes. The Holy Grail, however unlikely, is every season a possibility.

The Germans and Spaniards employed are no slouches. They are internationals of rude pedigree playing in a system to which they should suit. The midfield is on paper a colossus and if early performances are any indication, Jack Wilshere is worth every drop of hype. If these performances are any indication, he will be the next departing mercenary in the eyes of the fans forever loyal. He will seek pastures anew. Football is so often a tale of potential unfulfilled, which pains the heart to witness. Somehow, there must be a reincarnation of the fully powered Arsenal of the early-Wenger era, or the red of North London will linger a breeding ground for the Big Teams.

An objurgation ofttimes aimed at Arsenal is one of excessive on-field dalliance, of pretty sashaying culminating in nothingness. The intricacy is initially pleasing, then tedious, complex, unnecessary, and then it dies. The Arsenal way is Bollywood-esque flirtation, a kiss away from something, anything. It is not a sign of altruism; rather it exemplifies one thing – an inexistence of plerophory. Instilling belief is the domain of the manager, and perhaps the time has come for fresh innovativeness.

The suggestion is not fickle. It has grown over eight years; it is more than pyrophoric. The greying man in the Arsenal tracksuit is running out of ideas. He has proven himself over sixteen years to be an entrepreneur of beautiful football, of this there is no doubt. Arsenal, though, need change. Arsene too looks like he could use it. The eurozone turmoil is a stellar example of how drawn-out inaction spawns innumerable costs. Arsenal will linger as it stands, as their new rivals embrace change in the name of progress, and they will crumble. Departures are neither a tale of dollars nor a tale of perfidiousness. It is the impecuniosity of success that drives them on, and the current batch will never forget Bradford City 2012.

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Adebayor, Cesc, Nasri, RVP - Who’s next Arsène?

By Ulysse Pasquier

Two goalless draws, misfiring new strikers, a Mancunian Van Persie wondergoal. All the ingredients are there for the overzealous pessimism that has surrounded Arsenal in recent years to thrive as we settle in this new season. The Premier League has only been back for two weeks and already that one irrational thought is ringing in the back of Arsenal fans’ minds: “What if Arsenal actually never score again without Robin Van Persie?”. Naturally the goals will come, but what will be more interesting to see is who will be taking charge of the scoring responsibilities.

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Carling Cup Final: Arsenal and Birmingham face-off for some much needed silverware

By Ulysse Pasquier, writing from Montreal

There will be much more than just golden statuettes distributed on Sunday as Arsenal will look to end their 6 year trophy drought against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final. Arsenal’s lack of silverware since 2005 has been a talking point in the press - for what seems like forever for us Gooners - and yet it will be Alex McLeish who will have the task of ending the longest winless run with Birmingham lifting their only major trophy back in 1963. Puts things in perpective doesn’t it? However Arsene Wenger has evidently felt under pressure this season breaking off with his nonchalant attitude toward the League Cup and lining up stronger sides. The Gunners will be eager to silence the critics but will first have to get past a strong Birmingham side and do so without the injured Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas. 

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Arshavin and Bendtner - Should Arsenal fans Love or Hate?

By Ulysse Pasquier, writing from Montreal

Arsenal fans have been increasingly frustrated with the duo’s performances in the recent weeks, especially following their important involvement in the Gunners’ two-game cup ties against lower-league clubs Leeds and Ipswich. Arshavin and Bentdner have indeed not had the best of seasons so far with most of theirs last appearances in the league coming from the bench. The humiliating defeat at Portman Road in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final hence resulted in a furious backlash from angered Gooners, directed especially towards Bendavin (let’s just hope that name doesn’t stick). I believe however that their style of play makes them especially easy to target and scream at from your couch - and I’ve done my share of that - but looking at the big picture, is all this criticism justified? 

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Walcott inspires Gunners against out-of-form Chelsea

By Ulysse Pasquier, writing from Montreal

Arsenal ended on Monday night their calamitous recent record against the Blues with a significant 3-1 win at the Emirates. 

Arsene Wenger’s players had to overcome the psychological pressure of having won only two of their last 18 matches against Chelsea in all competitions. Goals at either end of half-time from Song, Fabregas and Walcott allowed the Gunners to do just that and keep the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. It was however important team changes from Wenger that led to a rather unusually inspired defensive performance by Arsenal to stop the likes of Didier Drogba, previously with 13 goals in 13 appearances against the North London club. 

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Bragging Rights go to Arsenal in North London Derby

By Czeska Dumali, writing from Ottawa

Most football fans would say “it’s only the Carling Cup.” However, when it comes down to these two rivals it’s always more than that. 

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur - a match that is always enjoyable to watch had a surprisingly strong young Arsenal side take the lead in the first 15 minutes with first time starter Henri Lansbury tapping in a beautiful cross from Jack Wilshere. It was the 19 year old’s first start with Arsenal and his first goal. 

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"Another dimension" - Perfect start for Cesc and Arsenal

By Ulysse Pasquier, writing from Montreal

    Arsene Wenger couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the Champions League as Arsenal put six past an uninspired Braga side at the Emirates on Wednesday night. “The Portuguese Arsenal”, as they are called for their similar home colors, were given a painful introduction to the competition and could do nothing against the Gunners’ pace and quality passing. It was an almost perfect performance from the entire Arsenal team and goals from Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh and Vela ensured they ended this first day in Europe with three points. 

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The North London Derby

By Andy Jones

The year is 1913, Woolwich Arsenal move from South London to North London, after then Chairmen Henry Norris’ attempt to merge Fulham and Arsenal into one giant club is rejected by the football league, he realises the potential of having a big London team and moves the Gunners away from the main catchment area of current clubs to North London, right next to Gillespie Road Station, now known as Arsenal Station and thus creating a rivalry with Tottenham Hotspur and the North London Derby.

Well after that little bit of history, let’s get down to the facts of today, Arsenal are still in the title hunt, a win against their biggest rivals will see them remain within 3 points of league leaders Chelsea and go one point ahead of Man United. While a win for Spurs would see them move within a point of Man City and fourth place while consolidating their hold on fifth and Europa League football next year.

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