2013/2014 – Thankful

Change is here!

Change is here!

This is my (not-so) regular end of year wrap-up for this year. I did not do one for 2013 so this will be a sort of overlapping review for both years.

Overall

In all, there’s been progress in almost all directions. 2013 started with a lot of stress in a strange land but 2014 started with renewed hope. There was a massive difference. By early 2013, I was at ground zero, having to start all over again. A year later, I was planning on some real progress. How things change over a year! I had some useful experience in my 2013 sojourn, though. I went to places I never thought I’d see and met lots of different characters. I also found out the true value of friendships and networks. There are lots of things I have to be thankful for over the course of these years. More detail next.

Family

Well, there was some real progress within the family as well as the regular issues. I was not around from late December 2012 till end of March 2013 and throughout everyone was in touch, even my sis with whom I had unsettled issues before I left. After a real crash-down where I was, rescue came from home, again! I’d say I’m very lucky to have a family like mine because we stick together no matter what, even when we have problems among ourselves.

Events included my immediate elder sis and her hubby had a birthday bash together (they have just one day between their birthdays) just a week after my return which was cool. The regular January 1st party/meeting in 2014 (I missed the last one), two cousins got married in 2013 and one had a baby in 2014. Another cousin’s wedding in late 2014 and a burial of an uncle which I did not attend. I was at almost all events.

Everyone witnessed some sort of progress individually during this period and there will be a lot to be thankful for this New Year’s Day party/meeting at our parents’. 2014 has been really good!

Friends

*sigh* Facebook wasn’t what it used to be for me so I did not really have any new active friends on there and even old friends were once-in-a-while chats. However, what did not materialize online, became an offline blessing. Out of the country (it was just a journey to two West African countries o), I met quite a varied number of characters, with only a few of them that could actually remain acquaintances. We don’t even communicate much anymore basically because I really don’t chat much these days.

Back in the country and I had a lot of help from some of my closest friends ever. First, it was one who helped me find my feet a bit with a job I was kinda reluctant to do, and the other fixed me up with a better one. Then some of the other things I’ve been able to do have owed a lot to some of my other close pals.

I lost touch with some of my favorite girls after I came back but met a few new ones and had a renewed contact with some old ones too on a quite regular basis, mostly in 2014.

My list of friends I’m ever grateful to over this period includes:

Krafty: You started me up again. Even if you did not know how much impact you made, just know you made a real impact here. God bless your family.

Kev: Ha! This guy! He’s effortlessly in my list of ‘best people ever’ since I can remember and he just keeps been awesome. I really do not need to say much about him. If you wanna know, just read here.

Dav: He’s more brother than friend at this point. Almost always there. Now that we’re almost always in touch, maybe 2015 would bring the plans to fruition. Thanks bro, for making 2014 a reality that it is now.

Papi: We’re possibly mutually exclusive to each other’s activities, but the psychological boosts from chats and calls and all the encouragements only make for better friendships. I’m still better at PES2013 though!😉

PeeJhey: Okay, we’ve not been in touch for a while since MiTV days but 2014 had a lot of her in it. And it’s not just the discussions of her courseworks and projects, there was a lot of personal talks and real impact on me, despite being out of the country. She’s been a favorite girl of mine and now she’s even more or less a lil’ sis I never had.

Doyin: Now, here’s a girl I probably would have stolen away, if I could. If there was anything that made me like her more, it was that first meeting on WatchNight after more than 2 years without any sort of contact between us. You would have thought we were best of friends! Very warm personality and ever friendly yet intelligent and pretty. Just perfect for been ‘more than a friend’. Maybe, just maybe…

Other very notable mentions include AB Poet, Seun Tugbi, Eph, Mr. Wale, Mone, Yv, Biggie, Miss Balz, Chizzy, and many others.

Those I’ve truly, truly missed are Presh, Annie, Erl and Omoye (my favorite FB girls), Izy, Wemzy, George, Lawee, and the rest.

BBM

BBM was quite interesting, more in 2013 than 2014, when I got well into Wordosaur. I joined this group, got handed admin rights and ran a competition for about 4 months within the group with real cash prizes (or equivalent in airtime). Through this I met loads of wonderful peeps like CaKe, Sayo, Odi, Taiwo, Rukey, Oma and lots more.

Late 2014 saw me in various sports groups with my favorite now the ‘Naija born Gunners’ with a lot of heated arguments about our beloved team. Some favorites on there are Zex, Odi (again), Seun Labiran and FM while major ‘oppositions’ are Big T, 2nero and Aare. We all love the team but we only express our views from different perspectives and that’s what makes the fanbase so much more interesting!

Sports

Arsenal, more or less, remained Arsenal…except we shed the now tired tripe of being trophyless. Being Arsenal, though, the narratives just shifted to one trophy in 10 years despite the fact that we added a Community Shield at the expense of the moneyed Man City. All the same 2013 over to 2014 saw some real progress as we led the league for majority of last season before faltering towards the end and we also added two world-class and a bunch of quality players over the two summers.

Barca won the league in 2013 while losing all trophies contested for in 2014. The 13/14 season was especially disappointing as Messi also lost the Ballon D’Or to arch-rival, C. Ronaldo.

Nigeria won the Nations Cup in 2013 and I was able to experience the joy of celebrating in a rival country at the time. It was beautiful! Then we qualified from the group stage of the World Cup for the first time in ages only to be kicked out by France. No shame in that. The shame, however, is not qualifying for the 2015 Nations Cup! Regression has never been so quick!

On the World Cup, I desperately wanted Argentina to win so that my favorite player of all time will be assured of another Ballon D’Or. It wasn’t to be, though, as they lost in the final to a German team that destroyed the host country in the Semis. Three Gunners were in that squad so I celebrated all the same. However, that meant Messi has almost certainly conceded the award to Ronaldo again, who won the UCL and Del Rey as well as the Pichichi, despite being the World Cup’s MVP.

On the individual front, Messi kept breaking records after records and still remains my Number One player of all time. My favorite Gunner over this period has to be our player of the season, Ramsey, who turned on the style in 13/14 and won us the Cup with a lovely strike to down Hull City. And my favorite striker of all time, TH14, called time on his career at the end of 2014. A wonderful career that!

Other individual athletes I really loved this period were my girl, Asisat Oshoala, who took the world by storm in the U20 Women’s World Cup and the African Women’s Nations Cup, as well as our U17 wonderkid, Kelechi Iheanacho! Then my favorite tennis girl’s little sis, Serena rose up to stay No.1 for much of this period. I didn’t see much of other sports so, I round off here.

Business, Work, Financials

Well, I went from zero level to affording to buy what I need when I often need them. That counts as real progress, I suppose. From when I got back from my sojourn, after which I was jobless for about 3 months and being ready to do pretty much anything, I moved to a kind of marketing (a job I do not like for anything!)/supervisory job which I did for another two months. The pay started me off well but the stress was seriously bad so I was switching to teaching (quite reluctantly, I might add) when the offer came and I’m really grateful it did at the time. It’s not my ‘dream job’ by any means but it gave me a lot of things I wanted at the same time. I’ve been on it for over a year now and that says a lot about the guy(s) I work with!

I’m truly grateful for the opportunity, and though there’s so much room for improvement, I’m now far more balanced than I’d have expected when I got back over a year and a half ago. I’m still not yet where I ought to be but I know 2015 can make a very big difference positively and I’m gearing up for that!

Personal business-wise, not much happened. A few freelance stuff and just one small biz with my closest pal summed up all that came in (mostly with the pay still hanging). 2015 is focused more on me steadying on the job so the biz angle might still slow for a while yet, although, my plans are still intact and will be revised from time to time in readiness for any opportunity for execution.

Spiritual

*big sigh* Really, this is an area of my life that needs so much work. I’ve been on the ‘low battery’ level for most of this period. A lot of things really need to change in this aspect, and soon!

Relationships

Now, the story here is one that I’d not want to tell too much. First, the one I gave my heart to crushed it with a betrayal of trust that is still so hard for me to take. Then the ex before her came over for a weekend during which period I realized I had no feelings for her again (but the body though…)

After that, I entered another relationship with a lady I had crushed on mightily. It was enjoyable for me while it lasted, and being me, I was ready to think long term with her as I felt she was ready for the long haul. She had other ideas, though, and the result was one of the briefest relationships I’ve ever had. It wasn’t even long enough for me to miss her much after we broke up. I simply started feeling the pain of the ex before her (one whom I’d loved so much more than any other).

Next was a relationship that never came to be. She was an interesting one. Someone I thought we shared a lot in common but who turned out not as interested in what I wanted as I initially thought so we just faded away from each other totally.

Beyond these, I found out (quite late, in fact) that my childhood sweetheart, my first love, had passed away. This brought a lot of tears to my eyes and I had to do a little memorial for her here.

Finally…

In totality, 2013 to 2014 gave me a lot more to be thankful for and I give all the glory to the Almighty! This has been a journey of ups and downs, highs and lows as well as positives and negatives. From here on, as 2015 appears, this is me saying a big THANK YOU to all who have been a part of my journey through the years. I love you all! The new year will be better for us all!

HaPpY nEw YeAr!!!!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

A Remembrance of You

I say goodbye one last time.

I say goodbye one last time.

How do I begin? How do I start to tell the story of love that might have been but never was and, because of what has happened, will never be! It’s really sad! I never heard a thing. And that was because we’ve grown apart and so far away from each other. I know I’ll always have you in my heart because, who ever forgets the first love. You were my first love, even if I never knew what it meant at the time, but I later realized that I did feel something special for you. But now that you’re gone forever, we can’t even get the chance to rekindle such beautiful, hidden romance we once had. I’m beyond tears at this moment but the news of your passing, especially the way I found out, knocked the stuffing out of me! I’ll never forget you! And this post is a way to preserve the memory of you.

The story from the beginning was one of childish antagonism turned secret love affair. We just moved to our new 3-bedroom apartment in Akoka then and I and my immediate elder sis were still schooling at Festac so we only came over once in a while on weekends. It wasn’t long before we moved over finally to begin some of the longest periods I spent in one neighbourhood. The early days are quite foggy but one memory stood out for me. It always has. That fight at the tank downstairs. I hope you remember too. It was serious ‘chicken fight’ and we had a real go at each only to be separated by some of the adults around there. I still can’t remember what caused it but it’s one of my earliest memories of you.

It wasn’t long after that that everyone found out, including both of us, that we were birthmates. Yes! Same day, same month, same year! Then I knew you were always going to be special to me, even if I never wanted to show it. I’m sure finding out such information made us fond of each other, still secretly. We had a thing for each other but never talked about it. We only communicate with the eyes while in the crowd. We never really had time alone but when it’s just you, me and Bashiru, you were always different. I could hold you or touch you.

I remember the teases from Bro. Fatai and Bro. Jako. “Husband and wife,” they’ll say, anytime we were together with everyone and we used to fight against it going at them like we were very mad at the notion although we secretly both liked it. Other variations were “Iyawo Akin” or “Oko Basira” and we would start our tantrums. I grew out of it earlier than you, though. I just stopped responding to it but you were still fighting against any adult that tries to put what we had privately out there in public. I don’t think any of our mates really teased us about it.

I remember that one time when Papa came to our compound to play ball with I and Bashiru. He started telling us that he was going to marry you. I didn’t say anything about it even though I was quite pissed. Later that night, I was in your apartment watching Monsor and Bashiru play that new computer game when Bro. Fatai came in and started teasing you when he saw me there. You rushed to him and started hitting him. Then Bashiru dropped the bombshell! He said that Papa already said he’ll be the one to marry her so you should be ‘Iyawo Papa’. Bro. Fatai played along and you started asking Bashiru when and where Papa made this reference. I was a bit relieved that I was no longer the focus of the teases but I was mad inside that anyone else wanted to have you, much less my close friend.

I needn’t have worried. The following day, Papa came to see me while you were in the passageway playing with some of your friends. I can’t remember those that were there on that day but I guess they were the regulars: Nkechi, Efe and the rest. The moment you sighted him, you challenged him, “Come, Papa, who gave you wife? Are you sure you’re alright? Who do you want to marry?! If I hear such again…!” Or something like that, but you embarrassed him that day. I had to come out of our flat when I heard the noise just before Papa turned back and left. I pitied my friend but felt joy that you had just defended what we had. You wouldn’t let anyone take what we shared, even though many suspected and no one really knew. Except maybe Bashiru. And my sis, Lola. She was a tricky one. Always trying to get us together as much as possible.

I remember the days of ‘Dunlop’. I smile right now just thinking of those moments. ‘Dunlop’ was a game, quite pointless I might add, that we sort of invented where someone shouts “Dunlop!” and jumps on the bed, then the rest follow one on top of the other until last person and we roll over and start again, changing the first person. I remember we never wanted to follow each other even if it was just I, you, Bashiru and Lola. But we would try to feel for each other’s hands or bodies just before the roll over. On one of those fun nights, after we got tired of ‘Dunlop’, Lola came up with the idea of ‘Mummy and Daddy’ and, the matchmaker that she is, paired us together while she and Bashiru were the other family. Each family had a blanket to cover themselves with as their ‘house’. Under our blanket, we shared our very first kiss and held each other as much as we’ve always wanted. It was a night I’d never ever forget because that was the closest I got to you, ever! Other details of that night will be locked in my memories. Needless to say, that was the night I knew you truly felt the same way about me as I felt for you. That night I dared to dream that we would always be together and grow old together. Yes, we never really went to the ‘extreme’ but the closeness I shared with you that night was worth the thought! How wrong I was!

All these happened between the ages of 7 and 12 and I often looked back and thought if we’d grown up together, you would have been my one and only girlfriend, ever! I loved you like that. But it just wasn’t meant to be. You guys moved to your dad’s house, still around Akoka but we never got to see each other as much again. I visited with my siblings once or twice over the next few years but there was really nothing memorable apart from the fact that my heart still fluttered at the sight of you. I never really dropped the feelings I had for you. They just moved into my subconscious and resurfaced every single time I see you after that. Once just after I was through with WAEC and the other at your mom’s housewarming around Meiran when I was in my third year in the University. I still felt the same way about you. Even after two different relationships. I never knew how you felt, though. We never discussed it, even after I got your number and started calling every once in a while. You seemed like you’d moved on from our pre-teen romance and, though it was kinda sad for me, I couldn’t begrudge you for that.

We didn’t contact each other for a while until around 2011 when you gave me your BB PIN and we started chatting a bit on the regular. I remember that one time I asked about ‘the guy’ and told you if he wasn’t fast enough to snap you up, I’d just appear from nowhere and pack all the yams, palm oil and fruits to your parents and steal you away. You just laughed. I wished I had been capable then. I was in transition between relationships and I think I might have tried to start something with you. I moved on to someone else but I was still bothered you weren’t ‘off the market’ yet. After a while we just totally stopped communicating. I think I called once since that time, just to say ‘Hi’, besides the customary SMS I send on our birthday. It was almost obvious we were never going to be together because we’d grown apart but I still want to keep in touch anytime I think of you.

Today was one of those days when I thought of you and decided to check on you on Facebook and probably call you later to ask for your new PIN because you were no longer on my contacts list. I just wanted to know how you were faring and maybe see if you’re still available. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who can handle inter-religious marriage. I deeply respect those brave people who make it work. I naturally believe that there are too many things to work out between couples in a marriage before now adding the religious aspect into the mix. But with you I was willing to make an exception, if we ever had the chance. I always told anybody I spoke to about you that you were the only girl I could have ever gotten married to as a non-Christian and I would be willing to try and work it out. You were that special to me!

Imagine my horror, sadness and depression when I found condolence messages on your wall. I was shocked to the marrows! I couldn’t utter anything as I scrolled down the messages, hoping to see a response from you that all’s well and you appreciate the messages. I never wanted to accept that they were talking about you! It’s been 2 months. October 9th, to be precise. And I was just finding out today. I didn’t cry. My state of shock was too deep to bring tears to my eyes. That would come later, I know. I motioned through the day and knew I had to do this.

This is my remembrance of you, my dear soulmate! This is where I’ll come to share time with you now. I loved you like I’ve never loved anyone else! Even if the relationship was hidden and short-lived, you still existed in my subconscious.

You will forever live in my memories!

Rest in Peace, my darling!

Adieu, Bas’rat Yakub!

The last picture I personally took.

The last picture I personally took.

We Won The Cup!!!

FA Cup Champions!

FA Cup Champions!

Yes, we did! And what a glorious way to do it! And, yes, John Brewin, Dale Johnson and all those Arsenal haters down at ESPNFC don’t even know what they’re talking about. Yes, I’ll go light on them ‘cos… We Won The Cup!!!

Ok, let’s track back a little. I know it’s been a while I’ve been here but I won’t dwell on all that. Will I make up for lost time? I don’t think so, but I hope to put up two posts back to back and this is the first. Maybe sometime, someday, I’ll try to catch up with everything and probably run posts every single day for one month (that’ll be awesome!), but not at this time. There’s so much to write (when I eventually get to settle down and think, which is actually getting harder to do these days) and I hope to vent sometime. Presently, I’m not happy with my output at work and it’s getting plainer that enthusiasm alone doesn’t cut it in the real world. Efforts aren’t producing desired results and I’m just getting a little flustered. That said, I just feel like I should take a short break to get on here and cool off a bit before I go back on hiatus again. I might probably find a way past my present conundrum by the time I’m done.

Now that I’ve digressed seriously from the issue at hand (actually, I felt that last paragraph was quite important, even for me), let’s get back to the story of the day, shall we? Yea. So, we won the cup. Big deal. I mean, BIG DEAL!!! This is Arsenal! Trophyless Arsenal! Perennial Fourth Placers! Nine Years Empty Cabinet Owners! Then we pick up the FA Cup (not just any cup but the still-prestigious FA Cup) and all some people had to say is “it’s against Hull City”, “it’s just one cup”, “they didn’t show enough to promise more” or any of the inane variant of “we hate Arsenal and we won’t recognize them as winners” statement. Who frigging cares??!! We Won The Cup!

First, to the Gooners, how did that feel? Oh my, was it heart-attack inducing and heavenly-experience enacting at the same time! After a quite promising season where we unexpectedly started expecting the Gunners to win the Prem turned into an almost nightmare scrap for 4th place, we all thought winning the FA Cup was just going to be a “well, we tried at the end of the day” kinda feeling. How do you REALLY feel now?! I mean, we’ve been Invincible before (one and only) and that was awesome but winning a cup in the most harrowing manner possible after nine trophyless seasons turns the brain to mush. No need to be ashamed, it’s very understandable. I’m sure a lotta people partied harder than they thought they would.

It was massive in a lot of ways. First, the team can now be confident that all the narratives that label them overall as ‘perennial losers’ have been rubbished. The manager can now be sure that he will never be called a ‘specialist in failure’ any time soon (hi Jose, we just won a trophy!) Most importantly, the fans now have something to rub in the face of the taunting opposition for a while yet. We are now champions of something, and that in a season where Chelski won ZERO trophies, Liverpool won ZERO trophies and ManU got relegated from Europe. (I won’t mention Spuds ‘cos at the end of the day, they really don’t count.) How much more awesome can it be?! They can’t ridicule the cup sensibly ‘cos they all won NOTHING… ZILCH! And we all know ManCity have no real fans, so…we remain Kings among peers! Ha-ha!

Now, for those dim-wits writing on ESPNFC and other sites that are supposed to be neutral but we all now know aren’t, all of them can go and hug transformer! Lemme quote some Mode Nine here for them,

“Go plank a bee hive, or better yet, strap some weights on and deep sea dive!”
Mode Nine, Naija BET Cypher 2011

Really, it’s quite annoying. I read ESPNFC a lot. It’s like my favorite soccer site (behind ‘The Short Fuse’ and other Arsenal sites, of course) as I like to free my mind from the bias that might be on dedicated club sites. What I’ve found? Club sites even provide more objective analysis than these over-biased idiotic analysts.

What really got me this mad? Well, we just won the FA Cup (like you might have already been aware) and even though I watched the whole match, I wanted to read some analysis of what had transpired because my brain was in celebratory mood and couldn’t really do any proper processing of what was just delivered on the screen. First port of call? My favorite, ESPNFC. What did I find? John Brewin’s analysis. I actually never knew what to make of this guy since I’ve been reading some of his posts, although I had a feeling he doesn’t analyze Arsenal favorably, like lots of them there, but then Arsenal has always given itself up as an easy target for negative analysis more often than not so, yea, I never complained. But then, we just won a cup (after a nine-year drought, made more painful by the constant mention in the media) and coming from two goals down nonetheless, you would think there has to be something positive to take away. Well, not for ESPNFC’s writers apparently. All Brewin saw was a side that’s not promising enough to win any other thing in the nearest future. Yea, well, they all thought we wouldn’t make Europe this season too and see how that turned out. I just pity ManUnited fans at the moment. Brewin can kiss my black a** for all I care ‘cos, well, We Won The Cup!

Next up, Dale Johnson. Writing the now-famous ‘Three Things’ which I quite enjoy reading sometimes and they couldn’t have found a more negative writer (from an Arsenal perspective) for the match. All Dale could talk about was an Arsenal side that struggled to create anything against an excellent Hull side who somewhat deserve more than they got (translation: Arsenal do not deserve the trophy.) I laugh! I mean Hull gave a good game, and I’ll say that anywhere, but facing an Arsenal side who many agreed were not on their A-game and losing a 2-goal lead barely counts as excellent in my books. On the flipside, coming from 2-goals down when you’re not playing your best football and eventually winning the game in an exhausting 120 minutes, in a cup final, no less! Now, that’s stuff of champions! And all those who keep saying “it was against lowly Hull City” are just pointless buffoons. No one needs to be reminded of who pipped Arsenal to the cup and the last final they ever managed before this one. Neither do I need to mention a certain Wigan that beat the almighty moneybags in last season’s final and promptly got relegated (at the Emirates, mind you.) In fact, you can argue that Hull City should be ashamed that a lowlier team than them beat a better team than us in the same situation. And what’s more, they did it twice!

That takes me to Gabby Marcotti, who I actually kinda respect his general analysis, after making peace with the fact that he was never going to write about Arsenal even if we won the World Cup (if that were possible). However, I was surprised he gave us a few lines in his ‘Monday Musings’ after the FA Cup win. After a few quite mundane lines about Arsenal being consistent despite the struggle over the past trophyless period, he went ahead to downplay the importance of the win referring to the fact that we played all games either at home or at Wembley and played against two weak teams in the Semis and Final. I mean, WTF!!! Wigan just finished disgracing the eventual BPL champions on their home turf (where’s the home advantage here), I wonder who was supposed to be more afraid on a neutral ground. An Arsenal team who had the pedigree of failing when it mattered most (especially losing to teams they should be beating, according to these same people) or a Wigan team who were in high-octane mode after an epic win and, lest we forget, were defending champions. Some easy game that was supposed to be! And then a final where more than 95% of players from both teams combined don’t even know what it feels like to win a trophy with the psychological pressure on the Gunners as ‘favorites’ or more appropriately, ‘trophyless favorites’. I’d say the advantage was Hull’s to cause an upset. And then, it’s the FA Cup Final where stranger things have happened. How all these people expected this to be a walkover is beyond me. Why wouldn’t everyone celebrate wildly?! And I mean EVERYONE! Manager, players and fans! We’ve been trophyless for nine years. Every other person has reminded us of that fact every single chance they have. We were down two goals in the first ten minutes. Tell me what could be more gloriously satisfying than eventually winning the trophy under these circumstances. Honestly!

Anyway, I don’t care much for all these so-called analysts and their biased analysis. In fact, I’d preferably read a confirmed Arsenal-hater’s article than any of these guys’. My sanity was restored after reading TSF and later David Hirshey (my No.1 ESPNFC blogger by far). By the way Gooners, not all’s rotten on ESPNFC. There’s Hirshey, who is a lifelong Gooner and a verified Mourinho hater but still as objective as can be, and there’s the Arsenal blog on there too where Andrew Mangan (Arseblog owner) writes along with some others.

At the end of the day, all’s rosy at the Red half of North London and we’ve struck dead all sorts of narratives all in one game! We gave the neutrals a spectacular final and I’m sure everyone got their money’s worth in terms of drama and excitement. Fittingly, our No.1 player of the season hit the last nail in the coffin of Arsenal’s past woes. What else can I say? Good times are here again! Whether we build on this or not (though the pointers are all on the former), one thing’s for sure:

WE WON THE CUP!!!

We Won The Cup!!!

We Won The Cup!!!

Bad Gunners, Good Gunners! Death to Narratives Pt. 2

This follow-up to the previous post will focus more on general team and club issues over time. The last post addressed why I think we were all overreacting to the Chelsea loss. Yes, we have lost to the top four teams more often than not in the last 5 or 10 seasons (whatever stats you choose to apply). No, we don’t ALWAYS lose big in away games. Last season was the first time I can remember we lost with wide margins so consistently in away games. And nobody’s saying anything about we did not lose at home to any of them (since they were all draws and it didn’t seem to matter anyways).

So far this season, I believe we have better personnel than we’ve had in a long while. Before I start to talk about why I think we should slow down a bit, let me try and explain the little foundation fact I’m basing my argument upon. We moved to the Emirates from Highbury and were in debt so we couldn’t spend as much as we wanted on players. Even though it took quite some time for most of us to accept the fact that we will not be able to buy players in the manner of Chelsea (after Abramovich) and later Man City (after the Arabs), that was what was going on behind the scene. It might have frustrated some of us because we could have found new money of our own and spent well (Usmanov was very willing to be our sugar daddy then) but the club is run in a certain way and that is still part of what many people respect today.

Ok, so we couldn’t buy players, and if you allow me to try to play Wenger a bit here, we had to work with what we had, which was still quite okay, if only a watered down version of the glory days. Cesc was taking over as the main creative hub, Eduardo was firing, RvP was doing well for a half-season guy, Wilshere was later coming through, Clichy was inconsistent but you could sense he was still useful. Nasri was a nice option in attack. Walcott was also not consistent but a speed monster was always most welcome. You could see that if we could keep everyone together a season or two more we wouldn’t complain too much about the money because we could have spent the little we had on nice squad additions (like the Cazorlas and Podolskis that came later) and we would have the cohesion that helped a lot last season.

But things started to fall apart. Eduardo had his leg literally handed to him and was never the same player again. Wilshere had one mightily good season and also went the way of Eduardo. Same too, Ramsey. Fabregas worked his way out to play for his boyhood club. Nasri and Clichy jumped at the Arab money. Then after his only really superb season as a Gunner, RvP carried the small boy in him to the Red Devils. Well, you could say Wenger should have invested the cash he got from all those sales on quality acquisitions and admittedly he really could have done better (like buy Suarez back then, for instance, idk) but when you’re Wenger and you’re building a team and then everyone that mattered starts leaving or getting injured, a type of confusion sets in. Should you try to keep a core and believe your returning players will give you the balance you want while adding a few other players or just go all out, spending on players of presumably higher quality and start building around them again without the assurance that they’d be patient enough to wait for you to do that? Remember you’re still financially handicapped and the money you really have to spend per time is from player sales so you can’t actually buy a heap of star players at once with extra cash.

Well, without the money, Wenger made decisions best described by us as stingy money management until last year when we were told (and we saw enough evidence) that we could now spend. So based on the foregoing, I would divide Wenger’s era as Pre-Emirates, Emirates Debt and Debt-free periods. Pre-Emirates obviously was where all the good stuff was. Emirates Debt period was that period until last year when we were allowed to believe we couldn’t compete because we couldn’t spend like others. Debt-free (which isn’t exactly debt-free but shackles had fallen off) is the period from Ozil 42.5 to Alexis 32.0 going forward. Now that these periods have been defined, we will ignore Pre-Emirates for the purpose of this discussion.

Now, Emirates Debt (ED) period was that period we went trophyless for over 8 years. I know the media never had any sympathy for us during this period, and I care less about what they think anyway. As a fan, however, if you truly believe that with the financial situation we had and key players leaving the club over time, we should have truly challenged for the title and other major trophies, I’ll like to hear your argument. It wasn’t like we never did try anyway. We were beaten in an FA Cup final where Wenger kept faith with the squad that got us there while Chelsea rolled out a fully experienced team. I think he could have been forgiven for thinking that he could still recover if the main team grows together over the next few seasons. Then the Birmingham Carling Cup final where all sorts of things went wrong with the players and I’d be damned if Wenger caused that loss. Still, trophyless is trophyless.

If you are one of those fans that say you actually respect that he kept us in the top 4 and the UCL through all that period then I’d like to believe you understand that we were actually hampered through that period which is the point I’m trying to make.

Now, last season was the first season after the ED period, I think we as fans should try to look at things through that perspective and know that our handicap period was one of poor records against direct competitors. Why do they always cite statistics covering last five seasons or last 10 seasons (basically covering our handicap period)? Why not go as far back as the 18 years Wenger has spent? They do not recognize that we were handicapped, but we shouldn’t follow the same pattern unless we actually agree with them that we weren’t, in which case you wouldn’t understand my argument. Last season was the first time we would spend big on a notable world star so I’d prefer to think that is the season we became competitive again. That was when we can start taking notable stats and when we can start really getting frustrated at what was and was not done or what trophies have been won and what competitions have been contested keenly.

If we take that approach, I think we could say an improvement was seen in that we got a trophy in our first year of really spending money. That is some progress. Now, we can hold the team to ransom for not displaying a competitive edge against the ‘big teams’. So what else happened last season? Well, we took points off the little teams much more consistently than ever before. A stretch of those sort of games helped us, prematurely, to the top for a long time only for us to cross a patch of many key games at a time and drop back down. That was somehow different from the seemingly regular struggles at the beginning of the season where we drop points against most teams early and start picking up the necessary ones later while still not having enough for the big games. This meant mostly throughout our handicap period, we were chasing fourth or third place not falling back like last season. That is a little positive difference for me.

So in essence, the key was the big games. Yet this was our first season as a competitive squad. I think Wenger also got ahead of himself after spending his first big money thinking we could now immediately go at the big guns just to let them know we’re back. This backfired with massive goals conceded after lots of player errors. I think now he knows better. It’s a battle you’ll have to get some form of consistent results first before you start riding your own wave to victory. Now we’ve bought another big star, from another major team no less and we were able to replace key players that left adequately except one. And we didn’t fix an area we all agreed was problematic. To a certain extent, this is even debatable, but I’ll get to that.

So we’ve certainly spent money now like never before in the last 9-10 seasons and this means we’re coming strong as a competitive force, theoretically. Now remains how the units we’ve got come together as a real team. This was always going to be the challenge, however. Alexis brings something new to the team and an adjustment was inevitable. Wenger has always been blamed in the past for playing the same kind of game season in, season out. Arsenal had no spine. They can’t even win ugly. They give up too easily. Here’s one of the reasons I say many of the fans have taken these narratives hook, line and sinker. Last season and the last ten games from the previous season saw Arsenal grind out wins in some of the ugliest manners ever seen from the team. Yet many still say today that we play the same kind of game and they’re tired of it! What nonsense!

Again the ‘Wenger is stubborn and has no plan B’ narrative is being murdered as we’re seeing this season but we aren’t patient enough to wait for it to happen before we shut it down. Wenger played a 4-2-3-1 formation last season which turned out extremely effective against the small boys but not so much away at the big boys (again, we never lost at home to any of them). This season, he is trying out a 4-1-4-1 (or 4-3-3 variation) which he feels will be more effective against the big boys and we’ve only dropped two points against a team not around us in terms of quality (Leicester). We’ve beaten Palace and Villa as we should and drawn Man City, Everton and Tottenham. Of those last 3, the Spurs are the only one who were truly bad on the day and should have been beaten, but then again, we were still trying out our Plan B. I really don’t believe he’s trying to shunt Ozil out wide forever. I think he’s doing something like trying to make sure the opposition cannot predict us by shutting down Ozil when we would have had others who can fill in the role. Maybe that’s not it but then the fact is that he’s still experimenting. If I were alone in this, I’d be looking forward to next year to really have massive confidence for the title but this season, if the team kicks into form, there’s no reason why we can’t challenge.

I guess what I’m trying to say in a nutshell is this, the statistics that actually matter should start from last season when we made our first true star purchase and showed real intentions of fighting for something other than 4th place. Even then, we’re still kinda new at this (after 9 or so years of handicap) and I think Wenger is just having enough confidence to vary his team a bit in terms of strategy until he finds something that works and then we will all see what we’re capable of. I totally agree that we need centre back covers and we need a better DM than we already have to really be competitively ready for the title challenge (and Wenger should really have taken care of all these before the season started). But we’re still in the tinkering phase now and I still don’t think a DM would have massively changed our games so far.

Our worst game by far this season was the Dortmund game, which was much like the other big losses last season where stupid errors and super counterattacks slaughtered us. No DM could have single-handedly saved us in those matches unless he could’ve somehow made everyone around him play better on those days, which I doubt. I think we pretty much did well in most of the other games last season without the super-DM in place. This season, Chelsea with their own Super-DM conceded the same number of goals as we had going into the match. The difference was their attack was sharper which boiled down to us still experimenting. A sharper attack would have given us wins and probably the draw against City and that’ll have been 16 pts and 2nd place by now. Chelsea conceded 3 against Everton, we conceded 2. They scored 6, we scored 2. So, as much as a DM might have saved us some embarrassment so far, and is definitely needed, I don’t think it is the almighty solution so far this season. The attack is yet to click consistently. Once it does, then we can secure our backline in January and we’ll be very ready. If not this season, then next!

This is what I believe. Instead of spewing out narratives we’re all tired of hearing, why don’t we see the dispensations for what they are and realize that we’re actually moving forward. Here are stats that should actually matter now that we consider ourselves contenders:

Record against top four (Ch, MC, MU & Liv) since last season (All Comps) – P12 W2 D4 L6 (Very poor, yes, but we still have at least 6 more games against them this season).

Record against the rest of the league since last season – I seriously can’t do the math right now but this one has to be marked Excellent! We were the best of the lot at this.

Silverware won since last season – 2 (FA Cup, Comm. Shield)

World Class Players bought (above £30m purchases) – 2 (Ozil, Alexis)

Not too bad stats over nearly 1.25 seasons. We will get better! I believe so. Do you?

Come On You Gunners!!!

Signing out!

We Can Celebrate Again!!!

We Can Celebrate Again!!!

Bad Gunners, Good Gunners! Death to Narratives Pt. 1

Push and Shove!

Push and Shove!

It’s been a loooong while I’ve posted anything here but I guess you guys just have to put up with my once-in-a-while attitude. Sorry. Again, it’s football that’s brought me back on here and this is more of me getting tired of all the comments and analysis flying around. I know I’m not in the majority in what I’m about to express but I just have to say it how I see it.

Ok, we just lost to Chelsea (again!) and everyone that knows anything about football is on Arsenal’s case. Fans and foes alike. I really don’t know which piques my annoyance more, the fans ranting about how bad we are or the media and haters saying the same thing. It’s just quite tiresome. As normal for someone like me, I’ve had my fair share of arguments over the short period after the loss but I seemed not to have been satiated, hence, the need to do this.

I’ve previously expressed that I read a number of sports sites with my consistent one being ESPNFC. Well, I do still read them but I’ve lost interest in anything they intend to present as objective analysis after the FA Cup triumph. I simply just read them these days to see how creatively they are nailing Arsenal now. Other sites I don’t bother with anymore. I now prefer to read The Short Fuse, Arseblog and our own official site for basically more objective analysis. If you ever get to go on Arsenal.com, Adrian Clarke’s ‘The Breakdown’ is always worth a watch after each game for serious objective analysis on the game.

Now from even our fansites, such as TSF and Arseblog, the venom being spewed at the end of the Chelsea game was quite irritating for me. I have come to conclude that a lot of fans have bought into the media narratives so much that it even confuses them. The media sell narratives. That’s what gets people interested in them. It’s more or less a ‘bad news sells’ kinda situation. And it’s so sad many of us have accepted what they’ve had to say basically because they’ve seem right most of the time. But really there’s a lot more for us fans to consider when it comes to the club and the situation we’re in.

Let me take it from this game and work it back. First, I totally understand the frustration of the fans after losing that game. It is very acceptable to be mad, blame everyone, sack the coach in our minds and just say every nasty thing about the club in the heat of the moment. But I expect a little bit of objectivity to kick in after we get sober a day or two after. Here are a few narratives going into the match: ‘Arsenal can never compete at the top level’, ‘Arsenal will always lose to a top 4 team’, ‘Ozil is not as good as Fabregas’, ‘Ozil is not a good player for the Prem’, ‘Ozil is lazy’, ‘Arsenal lack cutting edge’, ‘Arsenal always gets hammered by a top 4 team away from home’, ‘Arsenal does not have quality enough to compete’, ‘Arsenal lacks a proper DM’ and a number of others.

Now, some of these narratives might be true but they’re also over-flogged and many of them have mitigating circumstances. Some of these circumstances can be attributed to the manager but not everything is totally Wenger’s problem even though we eventually will say the buck stops at his table, but then again, there’s a lot more in play.

In the game in question, I’m so damn sure we were never outclassed by Chelsea in any moment bar those two instances that led to goals which again had some surrounding circumstances. In this game was such that if Arsenal had managed to nick a goal with a sole shot on target with probably an Ozil assist, and won the game, every single fan will claim that we have finally arrived and all the finger-pointing will disappear into thin air. Let’s look at a few things which IMO changed the game, however, subtly. I actually believe if this game had been played at the Emirates, it would have ended in a dour 0-0 draw much like last season, only a little bit more boring.

First, Cahill had that extremely rash tackle on Sanchez and it was a straight red. That card given and Chelsea will have been shorthanded, no matter how good they’ve been this season and the game would have probably dragged to a goalless draw. Then again, we may decide to apply a bit more pressure and probably nicked a goal and do what they did.

Second, Chambers picked up a yellow for a foul that was a warning at best, considering what Oscar did on the day and that caution was indirectly responsible for that goal and Hazard eventually having so much fun. Yes, Alexis lost the ball in our half (needlessly, may I add) but we’d dealt with such very well previously. And yes, Hazard got past Cazorla too easily and I agree that a Matic there would not have allowed that. But we still had one man before Kos. Who was he? Yep, it was the yellow-carded Chambers. That was the tackle that was supposed to earn him a yellow. Replays showed he hesitated on the tackle and I think that was common sense. A red card for this team and Chelsea will be quick out of their shell and swarming all over us. Another 6-0 cannot be discounted. So he withdrew and it was Kos who had to make that tackle, in the box no less, and he was lucky not be sent off. Well, maybe not lucky because the ref was just being consistent with the trend. That goal changed the game in more ways than just numbers on the scoreboard. Kos was on a yellow, which would have been prevented if Chambers wasn’t already on a yellow. Forget the DM story, Hazard was Chambers man for the match and he did him well until that yellow when he had to be cautious. The narratives will read ‘Hazard skinned Chambers all day’ but the game before that yellow was a different story.

Now with a game to chase, I think we did pretty well. We didn’t expose ourselves too much at the back which quite restricted our forays forward, which any good team that knows their opposition’s strength up top would likely do. Chelsea did not create anything noteworthy before and after the goal because they did note want to open themselves up knowing how good Arsenal was in front (yes, I believe that’s why they played that way at their home ground). Where was Fabregas and Costa all through the game before the goal? Watch their midweek game against Lisbon (a game that some people even started praising the team more than Arsenal) and see how Costa was all over their defence getting numerous chances to score and losing them (where was Carvalho when Costa had that 1v1 against their ‘keeper?). They could never replicate that today. Some say it’s a tactic and well, if it is, it did work but still, it shows they know what they were up against. Costa even had the ball in our box and couldn’t do much with it because he was closed down quickly. These little things impressed me on the day.

In front, Alexis was harried all the time by Ivanovic (that’s more or less very good defending), Ozil had some good dribbles and passes but got easily knocked down. Way too easily. And I think the only other justified criticism on him is that big games need big players to do big things and he didn’t provide that. Otherwise, he did a number of things right on the day. Welbeck wasn’t getting service so he had to come to middle a lot more than I’d like and he never had many chances to go at both defenders especially as Cahill was already on a yellow. Cazorla did his bit creatively and Wilshere was supposed to get the equalizer but lost his composure at the first touch. Again, this is a forgivable offense except that we were 1-0 down.

Finally, the 2nd half was going pretty much the same way the first had gone with Chelsea not creating too much of note and contented sitting back while Arsenal were also trying to find a goal, albeit very cautiously watching out for the break. Many fans were frustrated that they thought we never looked like winning the game because Chelsea looked comfortable and we never had a shot on goal. I believe we could have approached the 2nd half in two ways. We could have gone at them with everything and tried to score, which I’m certain will result in some shots on target (like many keep crying over) and probably a goal (the probability is quite low knowing how well Chelsea defend) but we could also be open to a few more counters and conceding a few more goals and we’d be back talking this same trash and spewing narratives (remember, we ALWAYS lose big). The second approach was what we did, being careful of the counter. It worked for us defensively but in attack, it caused issues because we were always outnumbered and seemed out of ideas.

Then came the second goal. Remember we were chasing a goal, so we were bound to be desperate at some point and that point was when Alexis lost the ball (again!) in front of their area and the ball was worked to Cesc. Now this is where it gets tricky. With the ball with Cesc, he had Flamini in front of him, the two defenders still at the back (with Costa coming back into an onside position) and a few of our MFs around him. Some blame Flamini for not closing him down and allowing him that pass but I’ve heard a counter-argument that said Flamini saw other Chelsea players about to break for the counter and was more about trying to cover that area believing his defenders would deal with the lone man if the ball ever came to him (they’d dealt with him pretty well all day) so he chose not to block him off, unless obviously if he tries to get beyond him. The pass came, Kos didn’t quickly know where Costa was but was still close enough to disrupt his composure with a tackle. But he didn’t! Why?! Remember the yellow he picked for that pen, which he shouldn’t have picked if Chambers had collected it with a tackle on Hazard, which Chambers couldn’t… Oh, I guess you get the picture now. After that, the game was pretty much done because we wouldn’t risk a hiding by coming at them full flow so we just had to work with what we had.

About that goal, please stop over-hyping both Costa and Cesc over Welbeck and Ozil just because of that. That pass is a pass Ozil can make under the same circumstances and that goal is one Welbeck can score too. Costa was zero in that match until that goal. Cesc never did split our defense until that pass. These came about because we were chasing the game. And that came about because… Urrgghh! I’m tired of explaining. See the chain of events now? The only thing Cesc has more than Ozil in that match was strength on the ball and if you argue that that makes him better then, well, I’ll have to agree. Ozil playing through the middle, I doubt if he would have created much because of how Chelsea played. The runners were blocked off. If we had gone 1-0 up by any form of accident, I think Ozil would have picked up the accolades Cesc did, despite how lazy he seemed. Fine margins.

Just one more thing for reference. Man City is the only other recognized title contender so far and we can compare their game with Chelsea with this one. Chelsea played just as defensive and Man City, naturally being at home, were attacking. They weren’t really getting much luck until Chelsea eventually found the net, albeit after Man City was down a man. See what happened after City pushed up looking for an equalizer? Chelsea had two superb counters with Schurrle missing the goal and Costa hitting the post. It would have easily been 3-0 and that was at the Etihad. The equalizer came when Chelsea, seeing that it wasn’t going in at the other end, decided it was lockdown time. A nice move by Milner and hopeful dink into the box saw Lampard busting guts to get to it and in it went. Bar that, the game was already done. We may have had such luck if we went for it more in the last 5 or 10 minutes at 1-0 when they’d be more conscious of keeping the score than playing on the counter.

That is my take on the game. Part 2 sees my take on the team as a whole.

Signing out!

Things You Should Know About Introverts

For those who get mad at us introverts for one thing or the other, you need to read this to understand us better.

Playfully Tacky

From MeetTheIntroverts.com From MeetTheIntroverts.com 1) We need to recharge alone.
This right here is the cusp of the entire introvert v. extrovert debate (if there is one, anyway) – Introverts need to be alone to recharge. We tend to get completely worn out by socializing. This is basically what it means to be an introvert.

2) We don’t hate being around people, but we probably hate crowds.
I love being with people, but if you drop me into a large crowd I instantly feel like I’m alone and invisible. I try to avoid situations where I feel that way, so I may decline your open invitation to some random event. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to be around you, it just means I like to have more control over my surroundings.

3) We don’t mind silence.
I can sit beside you in silence and not think we are having a bad…

View original post 562 more words

5 Things to know to get that Cheap Apartment

Finding an apartment for rent in Lagos on a very low budget is a very difficult task. Ask me, I know. With the experience I’ve had, along with some I’ve heard about, I think I should be able to give you some nuggets if you find yourself doing serious budgeting before you get that apartment.

We all know the Nigerian economy can be very choking, so don’t be surprised to find out that you’re not alone in the bracket of those who sit down and calculate every penny before they go out in search of that apartment. Having a budget ceiling of around N300,000 to N400,000 can be very limiting. But there are a few things you need to know if you’re in this situation.

– What you want to rent determines where you will live (or vice versa). This is the Lagos reality! With N300k, you can hardly get a miniflat in many choice areas (and I’m talking per annum). But if you go to the outskirts (think Ikorodu, Abule Egba, Alagbado), you will get a two bedroom apartment conveniently. See what I mean?

– How long you hope to pay for initially determines how soon you would get that apartment. Fact is, with that kind of budget, you’re probably looking for a one-year rent or, at most, a year and half. Well, another reality in Lagos is that most landlords are not operating under the tenancy law, so do not get any illusions. You fare better looking for the proverbial golden goose than looking for a 1-year rent apartment in Lagos. Ok, it may not really be that difficult but you get the gist. The good thing, however, is that your budget will most likely push you to the outskirt locations where you have a better chance of finding one.

– Doing the search yourself, rather than in magazines or online, is definitely faster. Yes, you can use your favorite property magazine or website to get an idea of what you can find. But don’t really think you’ll get more than that, an idea! If you’re really searching for that cheap apartment, you have to get off your butt and hit the road! Referrals may be good, that is, someone referring you to an agent previously used but they’re not ‘sure-banker’. Open your eyes very well and don’t think you can trust them because you trust the person who referred them. They’re often after one thing only – their own commission! Don’t get any illusions. And that takes us to the next point.

– A financial backup guarantees you’ll get what YOU LIKE. The emphasis here is intentional. You’ll find a number of apartments within your budget range, whether for a year rent or two (depending on what and where) but the ones you’ll really like will most likely be outside your budget. Accountable for this is the extra fee you’ll have to pay for ‘agreement’, ‘commission’ and ‘damages’. You may think an apartment of N130,000 is affordable for a 2-year rent but when you factor in a 30-30-20 for these fees, the total package jumps to N340,000 instead of N260,000, and this is still probably ‘one of those apartments’. Now, your beloved apartment may cost about N180,000 per year but be sure that you’ll most likely have to pay for two years and the fees will be more like 50-50-30! Yea, it could be that crazy. Budget backup will be the best idea in these cases, trust me.

– Never let the agent convince you to rent. Realistically, your choices are seriously limited. Let’s face the truth, you’re not in the position to pick and choose. This doesn’t mean you just have to accept any place but just know that there’s a limit to how choosy you can be and except you’re not really pressed to move, you must be realistic with the options you get. One thing you shouldn’t do, however, is let the agent decide for you! They’re all about the deal going through as soon as possible, so they’ll say anything to make you rent a shack if they have to.

Well, these points should help you on your way to get that cheap apartment. And to cap it all up, you can never be too careful, especially when it comes to payment. Make all necessary checks and never rush to pay! It’s better to lose the apartment than lose the little cash you’ve gathered for it.

Good luck!