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1405 Ben Sawyer Blvd Ste 103
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
USA

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Random ramblings about Arsenal. 

Filtering by Tag: Giroud

Local Til I Die

SJS

party-time.jpg

While our branch works on its year/half-season in review entry (look for it here in the next couple of weeks), I wanted to take some time and post about our match day experience.

Surely there are some of you who are trepidatious about making the trip out to Local 616 on the day of a match because you’re not sure you’d fit in or dig the scene. You may have friends who support the teams that Arsenal are playing against and are concerned about bringing them to an “Arsenal bar”. Others of you may need a little bit of a nudge to escape the gravitational pull of your couch and remote control when 10am rolls around. Perhaps you don’t feel “hardcore” enough to come for every match and only attend intermittently. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to address each of those points and try to convince you to make watching a match with Charsenal a priority.

While a lot of us like to create a boisterous, rowdy atmosphere on match days, the one word above all others I would use to describe our group would be: friendly. The leadership of our branch mills around to introduce ourselves and make introductions between Gooners. We enjoy applauding anyone who walks through the door wearing our beloved red and white to help them feel welcome. Lasting friendships get formed through the 2 hours every week we have together during a match. Fans who have been supporting for decades intermingle with folks who barely know their Giroud from their Djourou. Simple songs get sung in the hopes that the entire bar will join in. There’s an electricity in the air when the pub is packed and we like to foster that feeling as often as possible.

Here’s the thing: we’re not friendly to you only because you have a cannon on your chest. Make no mistake, part of the reason why Local 616 is our bar of choice is because the proprietor is a Gooner. More than being our Arsenal bar, though, Local 616 encourages fans of every stripe to visit. We routinely welcome opposing supporters. Our best-attended match of the season to this point was the one against Liverpool and about a quarter of the attendees were Scousers. Things remained civil and cordial, we had some laughs, and nobody that I am aware of came away from that day frustrated with the experience (though the scoreline may’ve been a different story for them!). Ultimately a bar full of committed, good-natured supporters (regardless of the color of your shirt) contributes to an incredible match viewing experience. We’ll strive to not harass you for wearing the opposing colors if you repay the kindness and we all just might have an enjoyable time for it. Unless you support Tottenham.

So here’s another scenario: it’s 7:15am (or even 9:30am) on a match day morning. 30 minutes to kick off and your alarm is ringing. You had quite a night and you feel like Han Solo frozen in your carbonite bed. Even if you can bring yourself to roll out, thanks to NBC’s acquisition of the EPL rights you can tumble right onto your comfortable couch and flip on the game. Why should you forsake this convenience to hit the showers, pull on your replica shirt, and come out to Local 616? If you think about the match as a movie, what you’re missing by not coming out to a match is sort of like the behind-the-scenes extras. I feel my knowledge about the club (and the sport) has increased dramatically since becoming a match day regular, which has only fed my passion for the team. Spirited debates about team selection and tactics happen frequently. Wisecracks are mandatory. We all start using a common vocabulary and foster little in-jokes. Honestly, you’ll never cheer more loudly or have a bigger rush (outside of being there live) when that game-winning goal goes in than you will when you’re with a group of your peers. That sort of experience won’t happen from your couch.

Showing up for match days becomes part of your routine if you let it, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a temptation to only come for the “big" games, which tend to be the matches that will attract a larger than normal turn out anyway. When it comes right down to it, though, *every* match is a big match. With only 38 games in a league season, each of those points is vital. 3 points off Crystal Palace are worth the same as 3 points off Liverpool. Each cup tie or Champions League match could be pivotal. One of the most enjoyable matches I watched this season was our dismantling of Norwich, featuring *those* goals from Jack and Rambo. Did you miss seeing it on the projector at Local 616 because you didn’t think it would be worth showing up for a relatively assured victory at the Emirates against the Canaries?

I’m sure this isn’t unique to Charleston, but there’s a sentiment in our city that we should be loyal to our local establishments. We as Gooners here are fortunate to have a place to call our own in Local 616, with an owner/operator who is focused on growing with our supporters branch to be a football destination for the downtown area. The best way we have to repay his loyalty is with our own loyalty and steady patronage. The better our attendance and the more regularly we can fill up the pub, the easier it will be to have drink specials, giveaways, and special events. Things like that will only lead to more people coming out. Can you imagine 50 or 100 people roaring at goal after goal, every match?

This post is not trying to make you feel guilty for not showing up match-in, match-out, though. I’m a new father and try as I might, my family and fixture schedule don’t always conveniently align. Maybe it’s a trip too far for you to drive downtown. Life gets in the way sometimes and that is perfectly okay. When everything falls in to place, however, I make watching a match with my fellow Charleston Gooners a priority because I’ve learned through repeated experience that it is by far the best way for me to enjoy the beautiful game aside from a trip to London.

I hope that if you haven’t watched a match with us previously or have only been able to tag in occasionally that you’ll take some time in the festive season of 2013 and resolve in 2014 to join us. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Normal Service

SJS

My thoughts are and will continue to be with our brothers and sisters in Boston. The very nature of terrorism is to incite fear through acts of carefully targeted but otherwise careless violence. The aim is to disrupt peaceful existence; the lives and livelihood of innocent bystanders are the currency. We cannot allow terror to insinuate itself into positions of power over us. We must stand defiantly against those who would want us jumping at shadows. After respecting the victims, honoring the dead, and repairing the damage, the single best thing I can think of in response to a tragedy like the one at the Boston Marathon this week is to resume normal service, even if that means writing minimally-read blog posts about overpaid and underperforming athletic employees. Herein lies my attempt at enforcing normalcy.

The Good, The Bad, and The Gir-vinho

Humans possess any number of cognitive biases. One of them is the serial position effect: of a list of things to remember, we tend to remember best the things that happen most recently or that happen first.

The first thing I remember about Olivier Giroud (besides his abs) is that it took 8+ matches for him to score a goal in an Arsenal shirt. The most recent thing I remember about him is his Stormtrooper finishing and general profligacy around goal. His 17 goals tallied this season end up getting lost in the mix when that total could easily (frustratingly) be double.

In the case of The Artist Formerly Known as Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi, the first thing I remember is him being naively drawn into Joey Barton's antics, slapping the aforementioned, and being sent off. The last thing I remember is him footballing like a FIFA 2013 player controlled by a drunken Andrei Arshavin.

For both players, my fear is that sporadic moments of brilliance on the pitch encourage The Boss to continue selecting them for the starting XI ahead of promising alternatives like Podolski or the Ox. OG can make all the intelligent runs in the world, but eventually our opponents will realize he is not generally a goal threat and will allow the goal posts, crossbar, and air directly surrounding them to continue handling defensive duties. Opponents are already surrendering endline runs to Gervinho knowing that his plans after reaching his destination vary from contemplating world peace to mentally preparing his grocery list for the week.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is up with Podolski not being selected on the regular? How is he not getting starts and minutes? I could be biased (see what I did there?) but clearly he is the most lethally efficient finisher at the club. He and the Ox both offer the direct danger that we otherwise often lack. Neither are afraid to take a crack from distance, either. I can understand that the Ox is still developing and his appearances might be more scattered, but Poldi is a seasoned pro. Clearly Gervinho has incriminating pictures of Wenger.

Anyone else find it curious that Vermaelen got dropped back to the bench immediately after filling in for the suspended BFG? The captain's armband IS cursed!

Speaking of underperforming players…

Has Theo Walcott Scored Lately?

No.

The Run-In

Taking one point when faced with such a negative Everton rugby side aided by overly permissive officiating is a small victory, I suppose. Five matches left, including tricky away trips to Craven Cottage, relegation-embroiled QPR, and Le Newcastle, with Man U and Wigan (also battling the drop and eyeing the FA Cup a mere three days prior to our fixture) visiting the Emirates. Neither Fulham nor Man U have much to play for at this point other than pride, but any of these fixtures could be handbrake-inducing. 

If it's any consolation: Man City have two games in hand on us and a fairly gentle final seven matches, but have the FA Cup Final to consider against Wigan. Chelsea also have two games in hand, but are juggling two additional European matches; their fixtures are stacking up. Spuds have a game in hand, are currently shorn of their top two goal scorers, and still have to face both City and Chelsea. Finally, Everton must travel to both Liverpool for a Merseyside Derby and to Stamford Bridge.

Here it is for the record: I like our chances of finishing third.