What should I do with my Andre Santos shirt? – AFC

Football shirts, an essential part of a football fans wardrobe, we wear them with pride, we wear them to death and when they are no longer in the condition acceptable to wear in public they make great house shirts to wear for any situation.

I have gone through my fair share of football shirts over the years, mainly arsenal shirts but a few random purchases have snuck into my collection. I own an Olympiacos shirt that cost me the grand total of £2 from the bargain bucket at sports direct last year. Too good a bargain to turn down, no logo on the front just the badge and kit maker logo, only a fan of Olympiacos would recognize it for me it’s a handy option for my 5 a side footie sessions.

With the prices of shirts and the frequency they are churned out at arsenal I don’t even own the current home or away shirt. The tight wad in me is happy to purchase the previous seasons jersey when they hit clearance prices to make way for the latest. Either that or the Christmas/January sales entice me to part with my cash.

One thing that I had stopped doing was purchasing shirts with players’ names on the back. The reasoning behind this wasn’t to save the pennies but the fact that every player I put on the back left us. There’s nothing worse than having a player leave and then you are stuck walking around with an ex players name stuck there much like the indignity of having an ex partners name tattooed on your body.

During the good times I purchased a shirt with Henry printed on the back – gone, Vieira – gone, Pires – gone, Reyes (don’t laugh) – gone. You can almost get away with most of those shirts when certain players carry legendary status with your club. Most of the names I mentioned carry high esteem amongst gunners long after they are gone and so their significance isn’t reduced. Though I am pretty sure there are a high number of fans out there that have possession of a shirt with Samir Nasri’s name across the back, possibly Adebayor too.

When players leave on acrimonious terms and you are left with a shirt carrying their name you might as well throw that shirt in the corner of the bathroom lying in wait for when the toilet needs a good scrubbing. Maybe the letters can be removed, I’ve never tried so don’t know how successful that is.

Now to my dilemma, earlier in the season upon one of my frequent visits to emirates I decided to have a look around the armoury store. I believe this was after one of the u-21 games that were hosted at the emirates. With only five thousand or so fans turning up that day the area was a lot less congested and the store had a more bearable number of people browsing. Normally on a match day the armoury can be so packed there is no room to breathe let alone move around. So on this day I was able to have a look around and take my time, I had no intention to purchase anything but it doesn’t harm to have a look. It was here where I spotted the shirt; it was a Brazil shirt, the latest shirt going for £25. the drawback? It has A. Santos and 11 on the back. Now I am a massive fan of Brazil, have always admired their football and the quality players they have churned out since forever. To own a Brazil shirt has been something I have always considered however I could never justify the purchase due to the price of the shirt. You never get a Brazil shirt for a reasonable price even the older shirts hold their price so to see that the current shirt is available at such a price I just couldn’t turn up the opportunity. I know it was going against my name on the back policy but I was getting a Brazil shirt. Santos was still popular amongst the fans; the speeding incident with the police was still fresh and probably endeared Santos even more to the gunner’s fans. So I bought the shirt, well happy with my purchase I wore it to my next home game I attended.

Fast forward a couple of months and Andre Santos can do nothing right at the moment. His mixed performances since coming into the side because of Kieran Gibbs injury have almost turned him into the pantomime villain amongst arsenal fans. Much like favour turned sour with Emmanuel Eboue once results stopped going our way a similar situation has developed with Santos and it seems it will take a hell of a lot of hard work to win back favour with the arsenal fans.

His confidence is low at the moment and his morale must have been shattered to pieces when Arsene decided to drop Santos in favour of playing Vermaelen out of position in the left back role. Not a good sign when a player being shifted out of position is preferred in your specialist position. That is probably the biggest sign yet that Andre Santos’s arsenal career is on borrowed time. He has every chance between now and the next transfer window to turn things around but at present it seems a hard task.

So this now leaves me in a situation where I have the Brazil shirt I always wanted but the name of Andre Santos on the back which is likely to result is some heckling from football fans. The weather has changed now so im less likely to wear a football shirt fully exposed, the cold in the stands will ensure I am well wrapped up and any shirt I wear will be covered up. However the times I do wear my shirt fully out in all its glory will I be hiding my back to avoid being seen? I suppose when you look at it in the grand scheme of things if every arsenal fan was offered a football shirt with any current players name printed on the back for free what percentage of those fans would request a Santos shirt? Maybe 2-3%? In a way the shirt is unique and maybe I should celebrate the fact I stand out from the thousands of Cazorla and Wilshere shirts.

I spent a season sharing a season ticket for a seat behind a bloke who brought a massive sheet to every game saying ‘Eboue is my homeboy’ funnily enough Eboue would spot this guy every game and on more than one occasion he would go over to the guy at the end of the game and give him his shirt. I used to look on enviously that this guy got the attention just for holding up a flag but he was bold enough to show his support for an out of favour player. The same bloke probably jumped off the nearest bridge when Eboue left.

Could Santos be my Eboue is my homeboy? At a time where he is public enemy number one maybe I should put on my shirt with pride, decorate my bed sheet with an encouraging message for Santos and display it at all the games I go to. It might inspire his performances; he may also donate one of his XXL shirts to me.

Maybe owning the shirt isn’t a bad thing after all, Santos you are my homeboy and you drive how you want. Make me proud to wear your name on my back you are a Brazilian after all…

Enjoy your day people.

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Some points to address part 2 – AFC

Yesterday I raised some points to you in the aftermath of the Old Trafford game, today I continue them to you:

Is it time to cut our losses on injury prone players?

Going into the united match the squad was weakened by the loss of injured players. Now injuries are not something you can avoid, it happens to all teams, it happens to us a lot but you reach a point where you question whether lady luck is not on your side or whether you do something about it and not have to rely on luck. Abou Diaby is a player I believe in so much, if he was injury free he has the potential to be up there with players such as Yaya Toure. He started the season so well, he produced the performances many fans doubted he had in him and then he got injured. All the momentum and progress lost as he spends another sustained amount of time in the treatment room. We missed his presence on Saturday and there is no real idea of when he will return to the team.

Thomas Rosicky although injured playing for the Czech republic over the summer is another player who last season was rejuvenated in arsenal colours. He proved his worth with some awesome displays as we stormed to 4th place in the table. Despite the heroics we find ourselves in an all too familiar situation where Rosicky is spending more time in the treatment room than on the pitch.

It just seems the longer we persevere with injury prone players the more the team suffers because when those players are injured we have no other options when first choice players become unavailable. A valuable place is taken in the premier league squad by players who cannot be called upon when required. We have done this for years only for the infamous line ‘like a new player’ to be used every time they return for a 2 game run.

Is it time to be ruthless and consider shipping on the more injury prone players? i would find it hard to see us get rid of Diaby but how much longer can we rely on him to play at least 5 games in a row without injury. Before you abuse me this is just a point I am raising, I am not campaigning for us to get rid of any players. For all the improvements made by Kieran Gibbs at left back his injury record leaves us in the situation where we now rely on Andre Santos to fill the gap, this leads onto my next point.

Santos has to play

Yes, I know he was torn a new one by Valencia on Saturday but not many full backs do get an easy game against the united winger. Our Brazilian is currently going through a crisis of confidence as the current negativity surrounding arsenal football club has produced a scapegoat. Will he turn around the perception? It’s a tough one to call, all players go through ups and downs and santos is definitely in the middle of a down period. He is being blamed for things that aren’t his fault at times and currently can do nothing right.

Santos defending has not been an in-house secret the nation is unaware of. We know his attacking can far outweigh his defensive side. More suited to a wing back role rather than an out an out full back role Santos is often found wanting out on the left hand side. Can it all be down to his positional play or could the addition factors of support and team formation contribute?  It is probably a combination of all three but I have to say I don’t agree with the idea of playing Sagna or any other player out of position to fill in at that role.

Santos is the specialist full back and it’s a choice Arsene Wenger will have to live and die by. It’s a player he signed and one he will need to assess on keeping or selling at the next transfer window but I think the option of playing an out of position player ahead of him is premature. He can still contribute at left back and if he was dropped for Sagna or Coquelin then there is no point registering him to play for the club ever again. If there is any chance of him regaining his confidence that would be shot to pieces to drop him for those options. Wenger needs to address how the team can help out Santos during his bad spell rather than leaving him to the lions.

what we as fans can do to help is to get behind him, as frustrating as it can be at times. never in history has a player raised his game after receiving verbal abuse from his own fans from the stands. we have to make do with him for now so the best we can do is unite and support all the team.

OK, moving away from saturday, we have a game today and hopefully an opportunity to bury some demons in the process. a positive result today will go a long way to restoring some pride back. At present it’s not looking good with our squad now weakened by the loss of Aaron Ramsey.

One thing Arsenal are good at is pulling off results at our lowest periods in a season. And that is why despite our threadbare squad travelling to Germany a win is not beyond us. The team need to stick together, fight for each other, fight for every ball and make the chances count. it is not beyond us, we are a better team than Shalke, tonight is the chance to prove it.

Enjoy your day people.Enjoy the game

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Tension high for QPR, Adidas kit deal in pipeline – AFC

Match day, boy do we need a win today. The past week has been nothing short of depressing; two defeats in a week do not bode well for morale. The fan frustrations have been heightened and I suppose the timing of the AGM this week couldn’t have been timed better to let the people in the know get an indication of how feelings about the club are felt by the majority of the fans.

The funny thing about football is it is a sport for the now, whatever happened two weeks ago gets long forgotten and replaced with whatever happened now. Where a few weeks ago we were pulling off great results and moving up the table, the frustrations were at a minimum. If the AGM happened back then the meeting would have passed with little fuss and certain issues would have been overlooked because of the feel good factor.

The fact that we lost a couple of games in a week the undertones transmitting from fans are at the opposite end of the scale. Every aspect of the club gets looked at and all the progress at the start of the season is long forgotten, replaced with all the reasons we have not won anything for 7 years.

With queens park rangers the next opponents at the Emirates today anything but a convincing win will do for now. The game today will be a real test for the players; they know the fans are not happy right now. They of course are not content with losing games, they know the arsenal faithful expect and today the support will be border line. Of course the fans are behind the team and want them to win but on the back of two defeats in a week it is guaranteed that every misplaced pass will be met with groans of dissatisfaction. The groans will be louder than usual and it is hoped this does not affect the performance of the players too much.

I’m slightly worried that there could be a scapegoat today if things don’t go to plan. Players in danger of the brunt of fans frustrations could well be Gervinho, Andre Santos and Vito Mannone.

Many fans are divided on the influence of Gervinho in a central role; the problem for the forward is that even when he was scoring in that position many still didn’t think he looked the part. It was inevitable that as soon as he doesn’t score he will receive a backlash. The biggest problem I suppose was the fact that as soon as he looked to start scoring regularly in that position he was moved back to the wide position he usually occupies. Many players need a run of games to find their form and Gervinho’s run of form halted when he was shifted back wide at the expense of Olivier Giroud; he hasn’t quite hit top form back out wide. The fact that Arsene is swapping around the central striking position isn’t benefiting the Ivorian or the Frenchman at the moment.

Giroud still has the patience of the fans since he is new to the team and still acclimatizing to the premiership, Gervinho doesn’t have that luxury after a season already under the belt at the arsenal. He really needs a good performance to reassure fans and possibly recreate that level of appreciation he felt when receiving a standing ovation when coming off in the game against Southampton last month. The timing of his latest article on the arsenal website is probably a couple of weeks too late.

Andre Santos has returned to first team duties due to the injury to Keiran Gibbs and so far his performances have not gone down well with the fans and pundits so far. On Wednesday the Brazilian was caught out of position on too many occasions to be overlooked. He struggled at times facing Farfan and really did his chances of forcing Wenger’s hand when Gibbs returns no help at all. He will really need to up his game today to appease the fans. The problem is his best attributes are his attacking instincts but right now the defending needs a lot of attention, a more reserved performance focusing on protecting the left flank will go a long way to changing the views on him.

Vito Mannone’s goalkeeping has been under the spotlight of late, many believe his mistake led to the goal last week against Norwich. In midweek he couldn’t have done much to prevent the Shalke goals but he did have a questionable penalty appeal which luckily went in his favour. Right now the fans see him as nothing more than the third choice keeper, when we were winning his limitations were overlooked in the knowledge that he is merely keeping the position warm for our polish number one. Now that things aren’t going to well his faults are highlighted much more. I mean I do recall his tendency to parry the ball back into danger area and last week was no one-off; it’s just that we have been lucky enough to have an arsenal boot first to the rebound in earlier games. Hopefully this will be worked on at the training ground because he has good enough reflexes to reach the shots in the first place he just needs to get it away from the danger zone. Right now he is our only option and requires our full support. I believe the fans understand this and will most probably hold back on the criticism however any major gaffs today will not save him for too long.

It seems quite a while since our last premiership home game and summer seems to have fully handed over to autumn since my last game. We will need a good win to warm the fans today, the cold weather is likely to make us grumpy and I’m praying for an early goal. I definitely don’t want to see any players singled out today, I was there the day Eboue got booed and was not proud of what I witnessed. It is the last thing we want to see even if it would send a reminder to Silent Stan and the board. Arsenal fans are better than that so anyone else going to the game please give the guys 100% support no matter what happens.

In other news it looks like the teams association with Nike will come to an end when the current deal runs out. Our kit deal with Nike which comes to an end in 2014 will not be renewed and it seems that there will be an imminent announcement that Adidas will be returning as our kit makers. The positive thing about the deal is that we can now command the kind of money that our rivals are pulling in from their deals. It has been mooted that we will be earning £25m a year compared to the £13m we currently receive; whether that goes towards team investment is another story.

As we know the adidas/arsenal partnership is one that old school fans remember fondly, we’ve had some good and some bad kits. Hopefully the partnership can lead to some of the more fondly remembered retro kits being manufactured just like the old kits. Seeing fans with the old ’89 kits minus an adidas badge seem incomplete to me. I still own a few old shirts with the JVC and badges half fallen off but they still feel more complete for having the adidas badge. I welcome the deal for financial and nostalgic reasons; I just wish we didn’t have to share the brand with all that is wrong about a team like Chelsea.

Enjoy your day people.

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Please beat Norwich, Jack back in squad – AFC

Saturday is here at last, my god it’s been a long wait. International football has had its turn, overstayed its welcome but now we can get back into the routine. Despite pulling out its trump card and honouring us with a Wednesday game due to rain, roofs and all sorts we all wanted it over and out the way. Next up for the gunners is Norwich at Carrow road, a game on paper we should win but a game based on last seasons’ battles will be hard fought and the boys will have to be on it from the off.

I have a personal interest in beating Norwich after my experience in the game at emirates last season. That game happened to be the closest I have ever sat to away fans and it really got the blood pumping though the ups and downs. The banter was full on and I found it hard to take when their fans were goading us. Although we didn’t lose the game the draw at the time put our champions league fate in the hands of other teams and the Norwich fans weren’t holding back with their rendition of the ‘Thursday nights channel five’ song. Luckily for us Spurs and Newcastle tried their best to outdo us in the crap results competition.

Like a kid that wants to get one up on their rival I will not be happy unless we achieve 6 points from the canaries this season. Today’s game will be the start for me and the return game at emirates will be the icing on the cake. I want to give it back to their fans; I owe it to them to rub it in their faces.

Now with the personal rant over, the standout topic of the team news that has been resonating since yesterday afternoon is the news that Jack Wilshere has been included in the match day squad for today’s game. Arsene did his best to play down any talk of jack playing before our carling Capital One cup fixture at the end of the month however Jack’s agent had a different idea. Through Twitter his agent Simon Bayliff let the cat out of the bag that the midfielder has indeed been included in the squad travelling to Norfolk.

That surely didn’t go down well with the folk at arsenal, teams news should really be revealed by the people in charge i.e. wenger. Jack’s agent will be sure to hear from the arsenal men about his future tweets regarding his client. Being in the match day squad is no guarantee Jack will even be on the bench for the game today. Wenger could have been telling the truth about his plans for jack and his involvement in the squad could be merely part of the process of integrating him back into the old routine. There’s no guarantee his inclusion is blocking any current fit players, there are sure to be a few spaces due to injuries to some key personnel. I would not expect jack to be involved today even if he is named as sub (unless we are cruising 4-0 ahead with 10 minutes to go). I see no need to rush him back any sooner than needed though I wouldn’t be surprised if the player himself is screaming for the chance to pull on the jersey again for a top flight game.

From the rest of the squad there is no surprise that Theo Walcott will not be involved, Kieran Gibbs looks to miss out after the injury that ruled him out of the England squad hasn’t cleared up yet. The goalkeeping situation hasn’t changed so Mannone will be between the sticks and at the back Koscienly is a doubt but not ruled out, a late fitness check will probably decide on his involvement today.

In today’s team I’m hoping Andre Santos can seize this opportunity, he has been very much a peripheral figure so far this season due to the form of Gibbs so I’m hoping he can take note of Carl Jenkinson on the other flank and give Wenger some future headache problems. Olivier Giroud will be going into the game with full confidence after his goal at west ham before the break and his midweek goal against Spain. If he starts the Norwich defence will have a game on their hands. They got Grant Holt but we’ve got Giroud, No comparison really.

With all the talk focused on Jack Wilshere it is not known if Bacary Sagna is included in the squad also. Both players completed 90 minutes in midweek and I would place both at the same stage in their recovery. I suppose the one sticking point is would Wenger risk Sagna’s first game to be against the very team his leg was broken against? probably not but the Frenchman is not far away from 1st team duties.

Enjoy your day people. Wish the gunners luck on operation Norwich 6 points.

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Santos to leave rumours, England continue Jenkinson pursuit – AFC

One round of internationals down one more to go, we are getting there. Less than a week left before we have premiership football back with our away game to Norwich. From Friday’s games the biggest talking point was the on-pitch assault of Theo Walcott against San Marino that has ruled the winger, striker forward out of England’s next game against Poland. We probably won’t see him in arsenal colours for at least a couple of weeks due to the injury, he has returned to arsenal for further treatment and so far no return date has been mentioned. Not ideal for the club though given our strength in numbers in midfield his absence won’t be felt as hard as in previous seasons.

Away from the England camp a few reports surfaced over the weekend that our very own Andre Santos could be in line for a return to Fernebahce. Understandably this season his opportunities have been limited due to the form of Kieran Gibbs in the left back spot. Santos also wasn’t helped by the recent court case and charges for speeding on the way to training. The negative impact from that incident surely would have influenced Arsene’s decision making when picking the starting XI’s this season.

Given the good start to the season winning teams don’t usually get shifted around for the sake of it, Santos just needs to bide his time and take his opportunities when they come. This logic doesn’t sit well with the gossip makers and the news of Fernabahce seemed an obvious assumption to make. Maybe there is a little truth in the rumour but our Brazilian no.11 took to twitter to express in his words the truth behind the talk.

In his tweets he disregarded the rumours of any deal in the making with the Turkish club. Just my luck that he decided to tweet all this in Turkish so I pretty much had to rely on Google translate to understand what exactly he tweeted. And in true Google translate fashion the words read back like something Borat would say. The main gist of the tweet is enough to make out that he denies the rumours. He did go on to state that if any move were to happen in future it will be made with consideration of what’s best for his family.

I think even Andre knows it would be silly to leave arsenal this season; there is no other competition for the left back spot beyond Gibbs. Knowing his injury record there will be plenty opportunities during a long season for the Brazilian to play.

England have not given up the pointless pursuit of Carl Jenkinson to represent England. Given the fact that England use our facilities at London Colney to train when they play home games Roy Hodgson took the opportunity to invite Carl to train with the senior England players before they fly off for their game with Poland. I noted in a previous post that I didn’t agree with this sudden pursuit of Jenkinson. The only motive I can see from the sudden interest is to ensure he represents England rather than Finland. The pursuit is not to have Carl in the team now, there is no shortage in the right back department for England and if Carl was to make the decision to play for England he will just end up on a long waiting list. Carl definitely deserves the plaudits for his performances this season but talk of England is very premature in my opinion. There is no way he would be selected ahead of what England has and there is no guarantee he will even be first choice right back for arsenal once Sagna is back to full fitness.

The experience of training with the England guys will do no harm in boosting his current sky high confidence so I have no problem with that. But please Roy don’t pick him for the next international friendly only for him to become a bit part squad player unless you honestly believe he can bring more to the current set up than Johnson, Walker, Richards et al.

Enjoy your day people.

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