From The Fans – Arsenal FC

Top Bins Talk is excited to announce our new column “From The Fans,” a dialogue between ourselves and the most passionate of supporters from teams around the globe. We ask them a whole host of questions regarding the current state of their side, their favorite memories as a fan, and their hopes for the future of their team.

We are joined by lifelong Arsenal fan Aaron Fiegel. You can find him on Twitter @Feeegz. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been supporting Arsenal and what is your best memory as a fan? How and why did you become a fan of the Gunners?

My name is Aaron Fiegel and I’m an Arsenal supporter from Northern Virginia. I’ve been following the squad for about 17 years now and started watching because my youth soccer coach recommended that I model my game after Thierry Henry. Naturally, watching a bald-headed, light-skinned dude bang in goals like an indifferent terrorist and jog faster than most mortals run resonated deeply with my bald-headed, light-skinned nine-year-old soul. I happened to be so blessed as to tune in at a time when we were playing the most stylish, innovative football in the world and the overall philosophy of the club solidified my confidence that Arsenal is the greatest club in the world. I would literally kill a man to defend the honor of Arsene Wenger. Don’t let me catch you slipping.

My best memory as a fan is likely the best memory for any fan that began following the club near the start of the Premier League era. If you were a supporter during the early 2000’s then you will never forget the 2003-04 Invincible season. It’s a mark on the history of the most competitive league in the world that won’t be bettered any time soon and it’s a legacy that’s ours and only ours.

How would you rate this current season for Arsenal from 1-10 and why?

In regards to our past season, I would give it a middling 6 out of 10. The negatives are the shambolic energy and display of the first half of the season. A notable low was the incident between Granit Xhaka and the fans. There have been times when I was disappointed with the way our team played. Times when I was distraught at the droning melancholy of our style of play at times under Unai Emery. Never once did I ever feel ashamed to be a supporter. We should pressure our players to be the best that they can be but the treatment of Xhaka by our fans against Crystal Palace was absolutely indefensible. Regardless of results, our players put in a full shift in training and in games. Move their families across the world for us. Learn new languages and risk the possibility of not fitting in and wasting valuable years of their primes to represent our club. Even worse, this man was our captain. Absolutely unacceptable behavior from the gunner faithless that were in the stands that day.

Now that I have that off of my chest, we simply just didn’t have any clear philosophy from the top down and we found ourselves lost in the pace of the table. That being said, I am VERY impressed and extremely hopeful about our prospects under Mikel Arteta. I’m sure that many of my fellow fans took notice of Emery’s refusal to take accountability for poor performances. We could lose a fixture, hell, we would GIVE AWAY a match and the poor man would claim that “we played the way that he wanted us to play”. Wouldn’t that mean that you wanted us to choke on our own vomit and lose, Unai? It’s no wonder that our men looked lackadaisical on the pitch so often. There was no standard of excellence. Emery simply didn’t know what it meant to coach at Arsenal. 
Immediately, after one presser with Arteta, you could tell that there was an entirely different intensity about the man. If anything, Mikel loves the club. That, first and foremost, should be the starting point. While some managers discuss players and tactics, Arteta addresses characteristics. Bravery, a willingness to work for one another, work rate, etc. Characteristics like these are overlooked a lot in the modern game where talent seems to be endlessly abundant. However, look at the changes in players like Shokdran Mustafi who, under Emery, appeared to be the Kwame Brown of professional football. He’s actually somewhat serviceable now! The speed at which we play, the pressure and intensity along with inspired fluidity and creativity are what the DNA of Arsenal Football Club consists of. While we’re not all the way there, I’m excited about what the future holds under this new direction.

Who does your club need to sign this summer? Who is your dream signing?

In regards to signings this summer I don’t think it’s any secret that we could really use a quality center back. The market definitely presents us with some options but, overall, the competition for prospects at that position makes it difficult to determine who makes sense for us not just in terms of style of play and fit within the team but, also, economically. If I could have my pick of the litter I would absolutely love Kalidou Koulibaly to come to the Emirates. I would also be interested in Milan Skriniar or Jose Giminez.

Who is your dream manager? Are you satisfied with the job that Mikel Arteta has done so far?

My dream manager is vintage Arsene Wenger! In all seriousness, it would be a farce to choose anyone currently managing that isn’t named Jurgen Klopp. That being said, at this moment, I don’t think there is anyone in the world right now that is more suited to lead our club into the next era than Mikel and I support him completely. We could finish in 12th place next season and I would chalk it up to the process.

Who, in your opinion, is Arsenal’s best all-time player and manager? Who is your least favorite player or most overrated in your eyes?

Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger (with some cult love thrown towards Freddie Ljunberg). Next Question.

I could put together a laundry list of dirty, good for nothing, ungrateful shirt stains that took our wonderful club for granted: Emanuel Adebayor, Ashley Cole and Samir Nasri would be acceptable starting points.

Favorite match you’ve been to (or watched)?

We didn’t even win the game but the Battle of Old Trafford in 03 that won us the league and ended with Martin Keown going full-on Macho Man Randy Savage on Ruud Van Nistelrooy is simply classic.

Who are Arsenal’s most exciting youngsters?

Bukayo Sako was starting to really get in gear and was looking to be developing into an absolute MENACE under the high octane press of Arteta-ball. Martinelli is a god among men and I can’t believe we snuck that kid into the country without anyone noticing. I would love for him to take my sister out on a date.

What is your all-time Starting XI?

My all-time XI would have David Seaman in goal; A back four consisting of, begrudgingly, Ashley Cole, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Lee Dixon; A midfield of Patrick Viera, Santi Cazorla, Robert Pires and Freddy Ljunberg; A striker pairing of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.

In your eyes, who is Arsenal’s fiercest rival and why?

At this point, our rivalry with United doesn’t really feel as tense as it did in the past. Probably because we’re both out of sorts at the moment. That being said, I cannot stand Chelsea. I don’t tolerate sacrificing a single point to that oil shilling mobster Roman Abramovich and I have solid evidence that he installed Putin into political office and I have no evidence that he’s been involved in several murders (but I am confident that the evidence is out there if you look for it). If you’re over the age of 18 and you’re a Chelsea fan, you’re a knob and you’re lying about how long you’ve been supporting the club. Second place is Tottenham but they’re about as intimidating as a basket full of kittens with lisps and they win about as often as that team that gets paid to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Who is a player from your rival that you secretly admire and wish you had in your team?

I reckon we could get a lot out of Mateo Kovacic. If he were younger, I’ve always respected the way that Cesar Azpilicueta carries himself on the pitch.

Which player from your team do you think would survive the longest on a deserted island?

I would think that Sead Kolasinac would last the longest but part of me is worried that he would pull a hamstring within the first 45 minutes. With that in mind, Sokratis.

Where do you see Arsenal in five years? What do you believe your clubs’ short/long term goals should be?

I think that we’re fighting for first in the Premier League and battling into the latter stages of the Champions League again in about three to four years. Short term goals should be developing youth, solidifying a style of play/club philosophy and deepening the squad.

Who is the most underrated/overrated player on your team?

Most overrated player is tough because we don’t really have anyone rated highly enough to deserve that type of criticism. One could say Mesut Ozil but I put the majority of the blame on Emery for his lack of passion. It could be argued that professionalism should have come into play but Ozil needs space to perform and the way that we moved on the pitch simply didn’t open up enough space for him to thrive. I’m going to have to sacrifice Lacazette. 

Most underrated right now would have to be Granit Xhaka. He’s not perfect but he was our captain for a reason. I really do believe he would run through a brick wall for Arteta and that type of mentality is what we need in the center of the park if we’re going to replicate not just the beauty of vintage Arsenal but, more importantly, the willingness to forego the aesthetics at times and just GRIND ONE OUT.

How do you think the current season should be resolved? Should it be voided, resumed once the pandemic is over, or completed behind closed doors? 

I think they should give the people what they want and award the trophy to Arsenal.

If you could spend an hour with one player or coach (past/present), who would it be? And what would you ask them? 

I think I would like to spend an hour with Johan Cruyff. I would ask him about which elements of life are reflected in football and which elements of football are reflected in life. I think Cruyff is the greatest artist to ever grace the game.

Predictions for next season in the Premier League? Who will be champions? Who will get top four? Where will your team finish? 

I think the tables going to end up pretty similar to what we have now with Liverpool and City at the top. I’ve liked the look of Leicester under Brendan Rogers and think that they’ll be battling Wolves for 4th while the usual suspects (Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea) trade who’s in third all season until injuries disqualify one of us. I do think Liverpool will probably nick the league though. Assuming that no one gets relegated in light of the league’s suspension, I don’t see the bottom of the table changing much either. I really hope Watford stays afloat. I love Troy Deeney.

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