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Summer Break – Arsenal

It has become something of a received wisdom within the present day that the mainstream media exist as the pinnacle of what is possible in sports journalism. Whilst it is not in our interest to reject this assumption, here at A Team of John O’Sheas we believe that some of the most perceptive insight regarding the top teams in the country comes from the fans themselves.

In the course of this podcast series, we will be bringing together some of the most influential fans from across the Premier League to give you the low-down on the teams that they watch week in, week out. We’ll look back over the season just gone, try to get a handle on the transfer activity that rumbles on through the summer months, and look forwards to the next season which, as always, seems to creep up on us with ever increasing speed.

In this episode, we find ourselves once again in the capital of the country. Arsenal Football Club are one of the oldest football clubs in the city, being the first club from the South of England to join the football league in 1904. Since then, their pedigree has been assured: only getting relegated once and completing the 20th Century with the highest average position in England. In 1996, the club appointed Arsene Wenger, one of the most divisive men in football, as their head coach. Three Premier League titles followed along with seven FA Cups. Yet all is not well in the London borough of Islington. For despite his unparalleled success at the club, there are still those who call for him to leave, a movement which has culminated in the ubiquitous Wenger Out signs that appear at grounds around the country in the hands of fans or, even on occasion, being flown from behind planes paid for by the supporters. In more recent Premier League seasons, a clearly-defined formula has emerged: at some point, Arsenal will hit a bad run of form which will prompt the supporters to call for Wenger to be removed, the club will tank until a point at which they realise that Wenger is not, in fact, leaving and they rally behind the team until they manage to scrape a top 4 place and a spot in the Champions League. Last season was no different except for one important regard: this season, Arsenal missed out on the top 4 for the first time since Wenger started his tenure. So here we are: Wenger still hasn’t left. Arsenal are out of the Champions League. Is this the season which will be his last? Or will he just continue blithely on?

Joining us on the show today are two individuals who are essentially the antidote to Arsenal Fan TV. Kolby Kuwitzky is, in theory, a writer. He should probably start doing that again. In the meantime, he mostly bakes cakes and tries to sound intelligent on Twitter. Having supported Arsenal since before they were available to watch on American television, he sometimes, in the darkest depths of their annual November swoons, wonders if those were not, in fact, the days. Justin Salhani is a freelance journalist based in Milan, Italy focusing on populism & far right politics, refugees, and football culture. He is also the founder of Guerrilla FC.

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