As the tough run of fixtures continue for the Eagles, TEB had a chat with George, the Campaign Office for popular Arsenal fan group Gay Gooners, to find out more about them, the season so far and thoughts ahead of the match.
Q. First of all, perhaps you could tell us a little bit about your fan group?
We have 879 members from 46 different countries and all 7 continents representing many different strands of the LGBT+ community and straight allies. We were the first and are the largest LGBT+ fans group in the world. This year we took our rainbow “proudly on tour” flag to Baku for the Europa League final, to bring visibility of the group to a country where there are no legal protections for LGBT people.
Q. So, let’s get down to business – what are your hopes for the new season?
Quite like to get back into the Champions League, although we’ll genuinely miss trips to places like Belarus and rural Sweden. The Europa League’s been great fun travel wise but absolutely dire football, which to be fair probably suits our current standard. So yeah, I’d love to get into the top four and/or win the Europa League.
Q. Looking back how do you rank last season, Emery’s first in charge?
Same way we’d rank every season since about 2008. I’m bored of the same mistakes being made, a lack of ambition and the mentality of “oh well just sign X player or wait for X player to come back from a stupidly long injury and it’ll all fix itself. We’re a club in need of radical change and does Emery bring that type of change? Let’s let away defeats to Sheffield United and BATE Borisov do the talking on that one. But also, is 18 months really a fair amount of time to allow a manager to settle or are we just impatient after years of lacklustre and uninspiring results? Any question on Unai and his future open a difficult can of worms, but it’s been a while since the fans have been properly happy.
Q. Are there signs that Emery will bring success to the club?
Suppose it’s a question of how much time you give a manager. Problem is, it just doesn’t feel like much has changed since the end of Wenger’s term and on top of that, the football we play has been dull and many matches have frankly been snooze-fests. If there was one sign of Emery bringing success, it would be that we had a more active transfer window than usual on a limited budget. However, it definitely seems that fans are starting to look to greener pastures and can you really blame us seeing as our current pastures are really quite boring?
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club?
As mentioned before, more active than we’ve usually been and the window closing before the start of the season especially benefitted us as a club who in the past have had a tendency to leave things to the last minute and panic buy. Nicolas Pepe has yet to play a £72million performance but then again, Dennis Bergkamp took a while before he had an impact so we remain ever optimistic. Dani Cabellos has been a game changer in many games. It’s gutting that he’s on a loan and the way he’s been playing, there’s no way Real will be willing to sell him for good. Kieran Tierney has looked promising in the matches he played in the League Cup and Europa League. Palace should hopefully be his first proper test (with all due respect to Nottingham Forest and Standard Liege). David Luiz, clumsy but fine for filling the space while Rob Holding recovers from injury and William Saliba spends the year on loan.
Q. Fans view on Mesut Ozil?
He is sorely missed and it seems silly that we’ve lacked creativity in a number of games, whilst one of the worlds best creative midfielders lurks in the outer rim of the matchday squad. Mesut, if you’re reading this and need rescuing send the guys here at TEB a signal!
Q. One to watch at Arsenal?
Dani Ceballos is definitely worth as he’ll only be in the Premier League for another seven months. Matteo Guendouzi is an enthusiastic youngster who loves driving forward. He has a certain Rosicky-esque quality about him and hopefully has a bright future ahead of him.
Q. If you could pick a Palace player to sign?
Wilfried Zaha. Still very bitter about not signing him this summer.
Q. Which Arsenal player do Palace need to keep an eye on in the match?
All going well, Kieran Tierney. He’ll exploit your wing and really open up the space and in the same breath will make breaking down our left wing impossible. It’d also be his first Premier League start so he’d be well up for it.
Q. What do you expect from Palace this season?
It has been a good start for the Eagles and stranger things have happened. Realistically you should start to take your foot of the gas at the congested Xmas period, but still challenge for and potentially secure a Europa League place. You’ll also beat us at Selhurst Park because that is an away ground and it’s a simple fact if life that we lose at away grounds. But who knows, you could carry on as you’ve started the season a we’ll be watching Lionel Messi play Champions League football at Selhurst Park next season and see the Barcelona team staying in Croydon’s finest hotel!
Q. Score prediction?
We’ll have played on Thursday and there is the added pressure of actually being quite near to each other in the table so 1-1.