Arsenal v Baseball Caps, Leg-Breaking Mutants and Towels

I wasn't sure I was going to post today, but such is my absolute disdain for Stoke City, their manager, their time-wasting throws, their bumpkin fans, and that knuckle-dragging mutant named Shawcross that I was compelled to write. And I'm passing this savings on to you, my fellow Gooners (and assorted non-Arsenal football fans).

Stoke City are everything that is wrong with English football. They have absolutely no style, and their idea of flare is spending a minute toweling off the ball every time it's put out into touch. They epitomize the Route 1 philosophy espoused by the worst types of dullards. Their manager wears a baseball cap so often that I'm not convinced that it wasn't stitched into his scalp, and his views on football in general are so archaic that when when one of his players sawed Aaron Ramsey (his countryman and one of Wales' best) in half last season, Pubis led the "He's Not That Type Of Player" (HNTTOP) brigade, and has since come out against anyone who rightly demonizes wild tackling. He's got as much class as a school in July, and his team reflects his personality defects.

Stoke don't so much play football as stand around kicking at anything moving and hope it's the ball. They're dirty, dangerous (physically), and shamelessly cynical from a football standpoint. As a matter of fact, if I were given the choice of any team to relegate without any hope of ever returning to the top-flight, I would choose Stoke. After sp*rs, of course.

Their Neanderthal attitude doesn't end with the team itself, either. A section of their fans shouted abuse and sickening chants at the stricken Ramsey as he was stretchered off at the Brittania a year ago, and that much is unacceptable. Your coach may be a complete cunt and your players may be a pack of slack-jawed beast-men, but there is no excuse for fans to behave like that. And while it certainly wasn't all of them, there were enough of them that everyone noticed. Their jeers belied the crocodile tears shed by Shawcross after his scything "tackle" broke Aaron Ramsey's leg in two, as did his almost immediate declaration that he wouldn't change how he played because of the incident. He hasn't. Why would he? Every manager he's ever had has defended his dangerous play, from the time he took out a fellow professional while on-loan in Belgium, to when he similarly injured Francis Jeffers, to a two-footed lunge from behind (and while beyond the touchline) on Adebayor, to his coup de grace on Ramsey (which didn't prevent his subsequent England call-up). He's never been disciplined for it, but in the face of all the evidence, Shawcross IS that type of player.

Arseblogger famously dubbed Shawcross "Lenny" (from "Of Mice and Men"), and it's fitting; he's a big idiot who listens to everything George (Pulis) tells him. When a manager gets his team riled up, while encouraging his charges to be "physical" with opponents, people get hurt. Great big morons like Lenny go out there and throw their bodies around because they've been taught to do so. What other outcome can there be? With Pulis and his Napoleon complex controlling the gigantic, brainless Shawcross, what you end up with is Master-Blaster. Which is okay if you live in a post-apocalyptic Australia where pig feces is worth its weight in gold and Tina Turner rules with an iron fist, but is otherwise not so good.

Stoke get a pass from most of the English press because the English press are almost exclusively made up of dinosaurs, who bemoan foreign players and foreign influence and long for the black and white days of 22 men hacking each other to bits in the mud while the sodden leather ball is swatted around. With these people influencing the opinions of the sporting public and football officials, it's no wonder the English national team is in such a sorry state.

At the Grove tonight, the home support have a common enemy in the odious Pulis and his charges, but while the crowd will have a big part to play, it's the reaction of Arsenal on the pitch that matters. We are without Van Persie and Koscielny tonight, which means Bendtner/Chamakh and Squillaci will come into the side, so we' be a bit bigger up front and FUCKING TERRIFYING at the back. Otherwise we have a full squad; I'm just really hoping that we come through unscathed tonight. Pulis is exactly the type of vindictive prick to tell a player or two to go in extra hard and try to injure one of ours, so let's hope everyone in an Arsenal kit has his head on a swivel watching for bad challenges.

There's not much more to say. We should have more than enough to take three points tonight, and I'm hoping the crowd give it to Stoke, to Shawcross and to Pulis for the duration, as well as supporting the Arsenal; if you're there, bring your voice, regardless of any prawn-sandwich munchers in your section.

Let's do this for Aaron.

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