Thursday 4 August 2022

All Or Nothing - episode 1 - FC Abusenal

I've been waiting for episode 1 for so long, it feels like an eternity and did it disappoint? No!

This Amazon Original Series of 'All Or Nothing: Arsenal' seemed all about Saka, at the beginning. It focussed on the missed penalty for England and the racial abuse he suffered, before showing a wall full of appreciative messages. This episode is nothing if not touching.

Sometimes the conversations are slightly stilted, as when Saka is discussing being recognised in the supermarket, he seems quite natural, but other players are not so comfortable in front of the camera. Nevertheless, it was good to see such camaraderie between the players and I think any broken bridges between them and the fans will be mended if the supporter watch this.

As regulars may know, I've never been in the ' Kroenke out' camp. So what if Americans call football 'soccer'! They injected £150m and backed Arteta when the chips were down. Josh Kroenke is portrayed as a really supportive man behind the scenes, and my guess is that much is real. He says the right things to Saka about his 'bright future' and even gives Arteta a lift when he needs it.

However, the three defeats at the start of last season show how much abuse Arteta, in particular, was subjected to. Although I knew that's what managers go through, I was shocked at the level of it with fans surrounding his car, as well as all the Internet trolling. To me, it's totally unacceptable, but there's no stopping it. You just have to ignore it, as Aaron Ramsdale says.

By the end of the episode, the Ramsdale family has taken over the narrative. We see how they've backed him all the way and the viewers get the chance to see his dad's hat, which resembles a fez! What a fun and loving family they are.

In fact, despite the abuse from many of the fans, what comes out of this is love. The Arsenal team is built on that. Arteta tells the team about his heart condition as a baby and how a high performance team operated on him and saved his life. Using a flip chart, he graphically portrays how low he was after the Man City defeat especially, but what really works with the players is him saying 'thank you'. He also relieves the pressure by saying he'll take the flak, or words to that effect, before the Norwich game. The result is a 1-0 win, in which Ramsdale and Tomiyasu make their debuts. The tension is palpable and only relieved when Aubamayeng scores from close range, following a goalmouth scramble.

Consequently, the game finishes 1-0 to the Arsenal and the north London 'derby' will be the focus of episode 2. I can't wait!

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