Publication on July 20th: Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.
The book that re-writes the Arsenal story.
By Walter Broeckx
14 July…what again is so special about that day? The French national holiday? Okay we do have a lot of French players at Arsenal but no, that can’t be the reason I circled this day in red in my calendar? The wedding of my colleague? Ok I will go the the wedding but that isn’t it the real reason….
Can it be? Is it really? Is this the end? Oh yes it is. Because on Saturday 14 July 2012 Arsenal is back for the first time and playing a game of football. Ok, not really a game of football. We play 2 x 45 minutes of football but against different teams. A 45 minutes game against Anderlecht and a 45 minutes game against Southampton in what is called the Liebherr cup.
Oh well after almost 2 months with no real football I would have taken a game of 9 x 10 minutes against 9 different teams to be honest. So I will not mind the way the tournament is organised. I will just take on the games as they come. Arsenal is back in town. No, that doesn’t sound right let me rephrase: ARSENAL IS BACK IN TOWN!
It is always great to see our colours back on the field where it matters. Not that this cup really matters for Arsenal. Maybe Southampton will have more a drive for this little tournament as being the home team. I think for Arsenal it will be more a first extra training in more or less match conditions. And for us it will be great to finally have a kind of match feeling again.
So we play Anderlecht and as being from Belgium I will inform you a bit about the most successful team of Belgium. And a team I do not like at all. So Arsène, do me a favour will you. Just trash them, kick them, anything just win this game. For me. Please.
Ok, I think I have made it clear that I do not like them at all. The reason go back some 40 years ago when they came over and destroyed my childhood dream and came and took one of the finest players Belgium ever had from my local team and he had a great career with them and we, well we didn’t get the best to see from what would become maybe the best player we ever had. So since then I have hated them, sorry mum, disliked them. Ok, with this off my chest lets move on to Anderlecht in a more non personal way.
They are the most successful club in Belgium. They won their first title in 1947….and since then won it 30 times. According to their website. Which is wrong as they also won the title last season but it wasn’t included yet. Ah, this is Belgium, this is Brussels. They won the Belgium cup 9 times and the Supercup (our Charity Chield) also 9 times. In Europe they won the EC2 on two occasions. I think in West Ham they will remember it. And they won the Uefa cup once. But that was in the 1970-1980 period when they were also a big club in Europe. Since then Belgium football could not compete money wise and now we even have to play qualifiers to get our champions in the champions league most of the time.
And we have met them before. As the more older will remember. In a final. Lost in Anderlecht 3-1. Won at home 3-0. Lifted the cup. Well done lads. Still love you for it even though I didn’t know Arsenal at that time but loved it that you beat Anderlecht. Revenge can be sweet at times.
So are there any players to keep an eye on? Well we have two players that have been linked with Arsenal a lot. What would we do without the media, nest ce pas? (That is French the language a lot of people speak in Brussels). Mattias Suarez and Lucas Biglia. Biglia could get a work permit as he plays for Argentina at times. Suarez not as he doesn’t play for Argentina. Suarez was named best player in Belgium last year. But to be honest that doesn’t mean a lot when you come to England and the PL.
Another attacking threat might be M’Bokani. Big, strong but a player who can be brilliant at times but average most of the times. When he left Belgium before after being the big man (in the newspapers) he went here and there but had to return with hanging feet to become the big man again. This shows you the quality from Belgium football today compared to France or England or Germany. They also have Jovanovic. Another big striker in Belgium who went to Liverpool…to fail miserably. So Chelsea buying Belgium “top players” (apart maybe from Hazard and Courtois) makes me laugh. 20M for Lukaku last summer… Another “big Belgium player” heading back to Belgium next year is my guess.
They do have a strong defender in the Polish international Wasilewski. A man who swings his elbows around in the most vicious ways. Caused a few nasty head injuries on his opponents in that way. If you like blood and terrible injuries you can google him. Add Witsel to his name and you can see some shocking leg breaking. NOT SUITED FOR SOFTIES. I will not look at it again. But he recovered from his terrible broken leg which was in some parts applauded as karma biting back after all the injuries he caused. Not really nice but well what goes around sometimes does come around. Look deep in your heart and will you shed a tear if Shawcross or Taylor would have their leg broken? But he recovered and seemed to have calmed down a bit.
Lots of internationals in Anderlecht but not really big names apart the ones I mentioned and most of them even will have been unknown for most of you.
However a warning has to be given. Arsenal is back in training for just a few days. Anderlecht has been in training for a month now. The league in Belgium starts in 14 days. So they should be getting ready by now to really start to perform. So they should be much fitter than Arsenal. And this could lead to a difficult game. Certainly if think about the fact that the players who were away on international duty last summer in EURO 2012 only come back next week and start training. So one could say half of our starting team will not be there. Or even more than half of our starting team.
So it will be a mix of players that will be out on the field for Arsenal. Lots of younger players and only a handful of the regular first team players. But please who ever plays against Anderlecht: just win it! I know pre season games don’t count. This one does. For me.
If you have the chance to have a look at the game live I hope you enjoy it. I’m not setting my hopes on seeing it live as I have to attend a marriage tomorrow. Just hope Arsenal player will show something later on. Because that would be a cruel thing not being able to see something.
Ah, football is back. Finally.
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