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Flamini wins prestigious Arsenal award...

Many of you will already be familiar with my elegant Bristolian drawl from co-hosting duties on the Goonersphere podcast, but these words represent my first time jotting something for the official site. Whether it be due to conflicting schedules (that makes me sound immeasurably more important than I actually am) or pure, unadulterated indolence on my part, I've never quite got around to sharing my opinion with you, the delicious reader of Goonersphere. 

That is now rectified. What follows is my alternative review of season 2015/2016. I've opted to gleefully omit all the regular categories that make up a traditional summary and invent a few of my own. These will include some of the less noteworthy incidents as well as singling out praise in more obscure areas. 

So, without further ado, let's get things started. As Samuel L. Jackson memorably bellowed in Jurassic Park, "Hold on to your butts"... 

The eye-gougingly dreadful cameo of the season

There is only one winner. Let's take a moment to picture the scene. Arsenal trail 1-0 to Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League. We've been constantly bombarded with twinkle-toed attacks and desperately need to relieve some of the pressure. Arsène looks across his bench for inspiration. One man returns a look of steely determination. He's ready to get into the fight, to make a difference, to single-handedly drag us back from the precipice of defeat. 

That man is Mathieu Flamini. He knows it's his time to shine. He can sense the anticipation amongst the crowd when his number is held aloft. When his feet touch the hallowed Emirates turf there's a palpable sense of magic about the stadium. And within 30 seconds he wildly hacks an opponent into orbit and gives away a penalty. 2-0 down. Cheers, Mathieu... 

The @JokmanAFC "Thanks for that, pal" moment of the season

I say "pal" in the heading, when the plural, 'pals' is more accurate, unless you count Newcastle United a singular entity... in which case, as you were. 

Though already relegated and with nothing to play for other than extensions to bloated and undeserved contracts, our Tyneside friends contrived to channel a mixture of peak Barcelona and 1970s Brazil to absolutely batter Spurs in the most hilarious manner. Doing so enabled us Gooners the unexpected delight of yet another in the interminable line of St. Totteringham's Days.

Tottenham Hotspur are unquestionably the pinnacle of gifts that simply refuse to stop giving. Even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, they find new and breathtaking ways in which to utterly balls things up. 

We laughed long and hard that day. Many of us are still laughing now. Somewhere out there in London, a embittered little urchin of a man weeps uncontrollably on to the steering wheel of his taxi as yet another declaration of power shift in North London is abruptly flushed down the toilet.

Thanks, Newcastle. You're a true gent(s)! 

The Goonersphere Podcast panellist of the season 

This is sure to cause trouble within the ranks. Obviously, I can't vote for either Daniel or myself as that would cause unbridled howls of, "fix!" and, to be quite frank, our performances need not awards or justification. 

My choice goes to the Atlantan behemoth that is @Devon4Real. His Yankee-doodle-dandy yammering has provided a rich, informative texture to our subversive, ultimately British humour and I love that man like I do vital parts of my anatomy.

On a side note; kudos goes to the rest of our rag-tag bunch of dubious reprobates, all of whom are sure to spit venom my way when they read this.  

The "Oh, that's just bloody typical" injury of the season. 

I'm not altogether sure it's correct to offer an award to something as unfortunate as an injury, but to Hell with it. There is a compliment in here. 

When Santi Cazorla ended up on the treatment table, it's no coincidence our fortunes waned somewhat. That pint-sized back of tricks was often the hub of our better performances, instigating and probing alongside Coquelin and always looking to move the play forwards when in possession. 

His injury came at an inopportune moment and, arguably, took the steam out of our challenge for the title. Whilst no one player can truly impact the fortunes of a team all by himself, we missed Santi. We missed him in a big way.


The largely anonymous player of the season 

Those familiar with my opinions will assume this prestigious announcement will be for Theo Walcott in all his splendour. You'd be mistaken, boys 'n' girls.

My choice is The Ox, a player I'd genuinely forgotten we had on the playing staff for large parts of the season. Even the likes of Wilshere and Rosicky, neither of whom have managed 90 minutes between them, both remained in my conscious more than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. 

I guess that's down to that fact he hasn't progressed into half the player we all thought he could be 3-4 years ago. He may have been an important figure in the much-fabled 'British core' but these days it's just his social media game that reminds us of his existence, not any notable moments on the pitch.  

The "He's like a new signing!" player of the season

Alexander Iwobi. It's worth pointing out that his Arsenal career is still very much in its infancy, but what's been on show thus far has been extremely impressive. Iwobi looks equally as at home on the wing as he does centrally, doesn't appear at all fazed by the step up in quality and has both the physical and technical attributes required to succeed in the Premiership. 

I'm unabashedly a fan. Not quiet at the One Direction, OMG-I've-just-doused-my-underwear-because-I'm-certain-he-smiled-at-me-amongst-crowd-of-thousands stage, but not far off. He'll do big things at Arsenal. 

And lastly... 

The never ostentatious but always dependable player of the season

Nacho Monreal. What's not to love about Nacho? The man embodies the term, Mr. Dependable. I genuinely can't think of his last poor game in an Arsenal shirt. 

Kieran Gibbs is someone I rate highly. I love his energy and enthusiasm and any slight issues with his positional play would be ironed out with time. But I wouldn't swap him for Nacho regardless of circumstance. Even if doing so meant riches and fame on my part (I'm of the bohemian persuasion, so such things mean little to me anyway. Now, throw some Jaffa Cakes into the mix and we've a conundrum on our hands).

Monreal has been the one beacon of tranquillity amidst a defence that can often have us supporters wailing in terror. He's always assured, sensible with his choices going forward and a headache for all opponents. Long may it continue. 

And that's all from me, folks. I hope you've enjoyed my alternative review. All that remains is a quick nod to my Twitter account and website where you can follow all my inane bleating and for me to sign off as I customarily do,

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.


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Tags: Theo, Flamini, The Ox, Barcelona, Armchair Gooner, Alternative awards

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