Arsène Years – In Pictures

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Arsène Wenger: “My love for Arsenal has never faded & It will never fade”
17 years and counting.. 🙂

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The Confrontation: The Dark Knight – Featuring Arsene Wenger

“This town deserves a better class of criminal.” — The Joker

Building on what Batman Begins established, The Dark Knight brings the conflict into the open. The main character tries to solve the problem, only to find his situation worsening. He learns that he lacks something that keeps him from his goal.

A year after Batman Begins, Gotham is a better place. Batman, Gordon and the new DA, Harvey Dent, have organized crime on the run. Batman’s mission to save Gotham by inspiring hope seems to be working. Bruce begins to hope that he might be able to retire the Bat-mantle. To live an ordinary life in a Gotham saved from its corruption.

The 38000-strong crowd, who thronged Highbury week-in and week-out, was clearly the most spoilt set of fans across Europe. The sleek one-touch interplay Arsenal deployed, with explosive counter-attacks and exquisite technical skills were unmatched, let alone in Europe, but anywhere across the world. En route they became the only team in modern football to have gone through the season unbeaten and this feat was achieved with a distinct blend of finesse and panache. Not to mention unfathomable authority. For 49 games, Wenger’s men were possessed and no one could touch them, no one.

Arsenal played ‘Champagne football’ which was duly lauded by purists and critics alike. After another FA Cup win in 04-05’, it was success in Europe that N5 now most longed for. In 05-06’ they almost came home in Paris but heartbreak was all they managed to return with through the ‘Channel’. This marked the end of a Golden phase in Arsene’s Arsenal sojourn. With all the big names having departed by the end of 06-07’ season, building a team able enough to reflect on the past, compete in the present and re-conquer the summit in immediate future was on top of Wenger’s priority. Shifting bases from the ‘Art-Deco’ Highbury to the ‘State-of-the-Art’ Emirates nearby, levied huge financial constraints on the club which meant Arsenal had to do all this the hard way!

The Joker

They were always there..

Enter the Joker. The Joker arises as a response to the Batman. If Batman inspires hope, calls people to be better than they are, the Joker exudes chaos. He calls out the worst in people.

Just like the Joker, trophies and money were ALWAYS there in football, but now, it’s belligerence was coming to the forefront! And nobody knew the reasons behind his/its sudden appearing!

Like the archetypal Fool, the Joker seeks to undermine the main story, to point out the foolishness of the main character and his quest.

The film’s central conflict revolves around Harvey Dent, the new DA. His Bat-inspired war against organized crime has earned him the nickname “Gotham’s White Knight”, and Harvey embodies all of Bruce’s hopes for Gotham.

Harvey represents everything Batman hoped to inspire: an ordinary citizen who chooses to fight evil.

The Joker recognizes this, so at both the macro- and micro-level seeks to reveal the base corruption of humanity. The Joker wants to prove that Gotham really is fallen because people are fallen.

All Batman’s attention is on Gotham itself. Though throughout the film, he’s a step or two behind the Joker, he finally manages to stop the Joker from destroying the two ferries, and the Gotham-ites on the ferries all choose not to kill each other to save themselves.

The Joker, however, reveals that the ferry plot was not his final gambit. Rather, while the Dark Knight has been distracted, the Joker targeted the White Knight. It turns out that when Harvey lost Rachel, when he came face-to-face with true evil, Harvey broke.

Harvey embraces the Joker’s vision of chaos, and goes on an avenging killing spree. Gotham’s White Knight, their champion and new symbol of hope, falls into the Abyss.

Batman’s mission failed: he wasn’t enough to inspire Harvey when it really mattered.

By the end of the 2007-08 season, it seemed that Arsene had saved the Arsenal, we were almost there. It seemed that Arsene’s philosophy was still valid in days when money was beginning to over-shadow football, the rapidly changing nature of professional football in Europe! Wenger had saved the people on both the ferries!

But it turned out to be a pseudo-victory! The modern game was changing, clubs were made to spend more, which was against Wenger’s philosophy. Also, many top clubs were buying more established players rather than growing their own or developing them from a young age, such as Manchester City, Chelsea, etc.

Just like Batman’s famed ‘no-killing’ policy, Arsene Wenger too has his own famed ‘youth and controlled spending’  policy. Batman actually had a moral obligation to rid the world of the Joker once and for all and so did Arsene Wenger to win trophies for Arsenal. But, they both stuck with their ideals, which to some extent led to their ‘downfall’.

Then came the Joker’s ace in the hole – Harvey Dent!

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Gordon: The Joker took the best of us and tore him down. People will lose hope.
Batman: They won’t. They must never know what he did.

When Gordon and Batman see what Harvey has become, they despair. Standing over Harvey’s dead body, faced with the undoing of all they’ve worked to achieve, Batman and now-Commissioner Gordon make a terrible choice. They blame Batman for Harvey’s crimes and lie to Gotham, telling them that Harvey died a hero.

Batman flees into the dark, alone, hunted and vilified by the city he’s trying to save.

Just like Batman, Arsene Wenger took the blame for the departures of club captains  Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie (Arsenal’s White Knights – Our symbol of hope!). While Harvey destroyed Batman’s and Gordon’s plan for Gotham, Fabregas and Van Persie didn’t fail to do their bit too!

BWBecause he’s the Hero that Arsenal NEED, but not the one it completely understands right now..

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Just like Batman, Arsene Wenger has chosen Secret Honour! He suffered the public disgrace and took the blame for the crimes of Fabregas and Van Persie.  He sacrificed himself. It might seem far-fetched. The nobility of the gesture is too much to comprehend when set against the disgrace and insult he has had to suffer from his own people(Arsenal fans – the Gooners) and critics. He’s stayed silent, while most managers in his situation would have turned around pointed the finger at the club. He’s taking the heat when, actually, he doesn’t really deserve it!

“The only sad thing is that sometimes your work is destroyed by others. You want to see a player in his prime doing it for your club. But it does not work like that all the time.”

Next time, Part III, The Legend Ends  – The Dark Knight Rises. Here’s a preview: There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wenger.

Thanks for reading!

All the cool kids can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

The Setup: Batman Begins – Featuring Arsene Wenger

The Setup (Batman Begins), introduces us to all the characters and themes that will be important throughout the story. It establishes the central conflict and fundamentally changes the main characters. 

Batman Begins introduces us to a Gotham saturated with corruption. We meet Bruce Wayne, whose parents were murdered in a mugging-gone-wrong when Bruce was just a boy. Bruce tries to avenge his parents, but is thwarted by the organized crime that runs Gotham. The mob is so powerful that the few good citizens – the DA or cops like Jim Gordon – are too scared to try to make a difference. Like everyone else, Bruce is unable to fight the mob, so – unable to avenge his parents – he leaves Gotham searching for answers.

‘1-0  to Arsenal’

‘Boring Boring Arsenal’

If phrases could describe the way a team played its football, then these were it. Possessed with a water-tight defense consisting of the famous ‘English Back-4’ and David ‘Safe Hands’ Seaman, between the sticks, attack surely wasn’t Arsenal’s forte. And mid-way through the 96-97’ season, it all changed! It all changed with the arrival of a man who was greeted by the Highbury faithful with the chants of ‘Arsène Who’ –  one of the most famous derogatory headlines ever to be published in British sports history, is now indeed a quotation of mockery and irony, as the man nicknamed “The Professor” has become a pivotal part of English football for the best part of two decades, a true cornerstone of footballing philosophy. But, let’s not get there just yet, we have a trilogy to complete!

While Bruce Wayne found his answers in The League of Shadows(not entirely though), Arsenal Football Club found theirs in Arsène Wenger!

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“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely… A legend, Mr. Wayne.” — Ras al Guhl

Bruce returns to Gotham. He realizes that for the city to rise up, to cast off its corruption, the ordinary people need a symbol, someone to show them they don’t have to be afraid of evil. Bruce adopts the persona of the Bat, a childhood phobia. Using the Bat-personal and his League of Shadows training, he wants to turn fear back on the criminals. Bruce’s plan works. Acting as a vigilante, he not only provides Gordon and the DA’s office what they need to arrest Gotham’s top mob boss, his work inspires them to take the risk. Things start to get better in Gotham. People start to get better in Gotham.

When Arsene Wenger first came to Arsenal, the first thing he said was that the training facilities were not good enough. So the club invested pounds 17 million in a new site. He even brought with him a Sports Scientist. The ideas on things like diet they introduced made a big difference to the fitness levels of the Arsenal players. Remember Bruce Wayne setting-up the Bat-cave with his butler, Alfred? He had to make sure he assessed the situation with ageing players [old relationships]. Just like Bruce did with Alfred(Pat Rice) and Rachel.

He won the League and FA Cup Double in his first full season. After their opening day loss to Blackburn Rovers (1-3), they made up a twelve-point deficit over Manchester United to clinch the title, procuring it with two games to spare.

But just like Batman, who was constantly at war with the mob, Arsenal often ceded the title to Manchester United have always been dominant in the Premier League, and the next season saw Arsenal fail to retain the title by a single point, while they were knocked out of the FA Cup Semi Finals courtesy that magical slalom by Ryan Giggs. And who does not remember the longest running feud, Arsene Wenger(Batman) v Alex Ferguson(mob boss, Carmine Falcone), in the Premier League that has at times been laid bare for all to see on the touchline, with fierce words clearly exchanged between the pair.

Arsenal went on to win several trophies in the next few years, including the Double in 2001-02 and another FA Cup in 2003.

The first major turning point in the trilogy‘s arc occurs when Bruce learns that the League of Shadows is still planning to destroy Gotham. The League (Chelsea + Roman Abrahmovic) is working through Arkham psychiatrist Jonathan Crane(Jose Mourinho), who manipulates his patients through a fear toxin and archetypal Scarecrow persona. The League plans to release this toxin(money!) into the city and let it tear itself apart.

The Batman(Arsene Wenger) stops Scarecrow(though temporarily) and kills Ras(No, Arsene couldn’t kill Roman), saving Gotham. And as Lieutenant Gordon(Arsenal fans – the Gooners) observes, Gotham will never be the same again.

Arsene Wenger’s Red and White Army wrote themselves into history with that 49-game unbeaten run, and all was well at Highbury!

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“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I Do that defines Me.”

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Next time, Part II, The Dark Knight. Here’s a preview: Things were always going to get worse before they got better.

Thanks for reading!

All the cool kids can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Nacho who?

Arsene Wenger seems completely satisfied with the performance of Spanish players in his Arsenal squad. Having brought in Mikel Arteta from Everton and Santi Cazorla from Malaga earlier, Wenger now turns to Ignacio “Nacho” Monreal, (former) Malaga and Spanish international full-back to cover weaknesses in the back line.

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Arsenal fans know exactly what their biggest concern is when Kieran Gibbs is injured – Andre Santos. But, this post is not about Andre Santos, so moving on..

Although I have seen him play only a few times for this Malaga this season, but the purchase of Nacho Monreal is one surefire solution for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. He is a player who is consistent, strong, and known to be very speedy. Monreal is also a player with good ball keeping skills. The most important thing in self-Monreal is he is a left back a tough, able to build an attack from the flank, but he also has very good defensive instincts. Statistics (via Squawka.com) showed that ​​Monreal has made 24 successful tackles out of 29. And here are some additional statistics.

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Monreal also possesses very good attacking instincts. He has scored 1 goal and assisted 2 goals during 15 games with Malaga this season, with a 85.3% successful pass rate, and a 0.4 key passes per game. The following are statistics of his Offensive Passing (via WhoScored).

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Here are the overall statistics for Nacho Monreal during 14 games (via Squawka.com).

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Nacho Monreal is the figure that replaced Capdevila on the left side of the Spanish defense and managed to get his first cap in 2009. The extraordinary development of Jordi Alba with Valencia and Barcelona is what makes him the second choice in the current Spanish national team. He was also an important figure behind Malaga’s successful CL group stage campaign this season and their 4th place finish last season.

Fees are estimated at £ 8.5 M, which is a great for Arsenal, although he will be unable to play in the Champions League because he has played with Malaga (cup tied). However, a great signing by Arsenal on deadline day.

This is what Arsene Wenger had to say about his latest signing in his press conference held earlier today:

“He is a technically gifted player, a good crosser in the final third and strong in the air.

“Monreal will add quality to our squad and of course, to our defensive unit. We all look forward to him playing for us.”

Why Arsenal?

This one goes out to everyone who at some point of time has asked me – “Why do you support Arsenal, they never win anything”.

Most remember why we fell in love with our teams, but for me I do not know how I fell in love with Arsenal for the first time. I do know it was love at first sight and it was because of a guy named Sayan Maitra! O:)

For me, no other team compares and I am sure that goes for every other passionate football fan out there in the world. I am in love with Arsenal’s beautiful passing, the finesse of their game, the highs and lows(Not that much, throws me into depression :|) of their seasons, but most of all the hearts of all the players and fans who each and every day give all their love and support to the game. Loving a team requires more than loving them for winning games and titles. Loving a team requires to love them through ups and downs, winning and losing because as an Arsenal fan this happens to me every season. Like every fan in the world, I know the next season is going to be our season. That season will be the one we break through to win a trophy.

As passionate fans of the game, we have a special relationship with our teams. Like any other relationship that requires love, our hearts have been broken a couple of times in the process. In the end passion and love always win over broken hearts because if you are a real football fan, chances are you feel the exact same way I feel when I see Arsenal play.

“I care so much because Arsenal is the only thing capable of putting that week-long smile on my face” 🙂

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