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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Stuttering win against QPR halts the losing streak – AFC

A win is a win is a win, the boys made hard work of it but we came out from a horrible week with the three points on the board. Even the best win ugly from time to time and given the low confidence throughout the team of late those points gained against queens park rangers will go a long way towards restoring our lost mojo. The weather was cold, the rain was spitting down and such factors were enough to add to the frustrated vibes felt by the fans. We needed something to raise our hopes; I had mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I was worried a scapegoat would be picked out from the game if things didn’t go to plan. The names I had mentioned were Gervinho, Andre Santos and Vito Mannone. The current bad feeling had me fearing a repeat of the booing that greeted Emmanuel Eboue a few seasons back.

From my list Gervinho wasn’t selected in the starting line up so that saved him from the venom of the frustrated fans if he misplaced a pass. It seems Santos was the focus of most frustration; at times it was down to some parts of his game but given the negativity he has received over the past week he was blamed when things weren’t his fault. Such is the life of a footballer he is going through a bad period right now so he will need to work that extra bit harder to win back the fans confidence. His partnership with Podolski on the left hand side hasn’t clicked so far and so in comparison to Keiran Gibbs he is in the side by default rather than merit. His confidence does seem low at the moment and that was evident from his body language, fans in the stands are less forgiving and are sure to let you know how they feel about your performance with a few expletives thrown in. If we did not manage to win the game I am sure our cuddly Brazilian would have received the criticism full barrel at full time.

Mannone came though the game with little incident if I recall, when he came out for the balls in the box he made sure he connected. I remember one mis-kick in the second half but the ball still reached an arsenal player. He actually ensured our victory with an excellent block in the last minute of the game.

I guess I have so far ignored one of the most important factors from yesterday’s game, which was the bold decision by Arsene to start Wilshere against QPR. Our midfield gem has not featured for the first team in over 18 months and it was a surprise to many Wenger took the risk. Bacary Sagna was also restored to the line up at the expense of Carl Jenkinson and I can probably see the psychological boost Wenger tried to bring to the team by adding our two long term absentees.

It was especially great to see Jack back in the team and he slotted into the midfield seamlessly. His class was evident for all to see: the trademark gliding past his man, the deft flicks and control were all still there and gave the fans a reminder of what we have missed for the past year and a half. To be honest the performances of Jack and Bacary were the only positive from a very flat performance from the team. We really struggled to take the game to QPR and although the threat of losing a goal was under control many of our attacks just didn’t get going. The times when we did carve out a chance Julio Cesar was on top form to thwart anything that came near his goal.

I feel from our starting 11 we lacked the required pace needed to stretch the QPR back four; we really struggled to get in behind their defence and made it slightly easier for them to defend against. As with all teams Mark Hughes brings to the emirates he ensured his players would frustrate at every opportunity, there was time-wasting even during the first half. This riled the home crowd and was surely part of Hughes plan to turn the fans against their team; the longer the game went on the more likely the fans would turn on the players.

For all the good Podolski and Ramsey can do on the ball they don’t possess the pace to really give the full back something to think about. The arsenal attack was screaming out for something to inject some new impetus. That came when Wenger finally introduced the returning Theo Walcott into action, Gervinho was added soon after and the change brought about instant results. Now the QPR team were forced further back, their fullbacks were kept on their toes and the chances came for the arsenal.

Although we looked more likely to score in the game the real turning point was the sending off of M’bia. The defender was deservedly red carded after stupidly lashing out at Thomas Vermaelen after initially winning a free kick after a tussle. That played right into our hands and the extra man advantage only added to the pressure on the QPR defence. Julio Cesar was on a one man mission to prevent an arsenal victory as he pulled off some excellent reflex saves to keep the score line level. At times it seemed like it just wouldn’t be our day as the ball would bounce and ricochet anywhere but into the back of the net. Finally the goal came courtesy of Mikel Arteta and I don’t think I have witnessed a scruffier goal before. Cesar managed to fling himself to deny a Giroud header as the ball bounced out Ramsey fired in a shot which deflected and looped in the air, Arteta got his head to the ball only for it to bounce of the bar, when the ball dropped the Spaniard was first to it to poke it hope from literally on the line.

There was a massive sigh of relief from the whole of the emirates that we finally took the lead. All we needed to do was retain possession and see out the last 5 or so minutes against the ten men. Easier said than done, as is the arsenal way we still managed to present QPR with two clear cut chances. They really should have taken one of their chances but for arsenals benefit I’m glad they didn’t.

On reflection it was important on so many levels that we got the three points in this game, with a trip to old Trafford next week to continue the bad run of results could have been the worst preparation going into the game. The midweek game against Reading holds no relevance as the squad for that game will probably not include any players that will start against united. I don’t even think Jack who has long been mooted to play in the Capital One game will be involved now after his appearance yesterday. We have a week where I hope we will get some positive news on the returns of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaby and Gervinho who was stretchered off yesterday. We have some unfinished business from last season we need to address with the boys from Manchester and Jack just might swing things in our favour.

Enjoy your day people.

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