Friday, 17 May 2013

Keep A Space for Sagna

It’s my first Arsenal blog in a while today but I was in the writing mood so I’ll compose a few thoughts on one of our most consistent players of the past few seasons: Mr Bacary Sagna.
I read that he was the last to depart the pitch on Tuesday night and his waves appeared to be lingering ones. I would fully agree with @LittleDutchVA on his Arseblog column when he said that he’d like to see Jenkinson phased into the team with Sagna there to help the transition. Gunnerblog made a very good observation on Tuesday night when he noticed how Gibbs was “coached through the game by Steve Bould who regularly passed on advice to Gibbs from the touch-line.” I think we can all agree with him that it worked and McManaman was fairly subdued in the game. Gunnerblog went on to say that “Gibb’s positional play and anticipation were as good as I’ve seen him produce.” Remembering how good Sagna was against Sunderland when he was moved into the centre due to injuries, I can only imagine his experience at centre back being a positive were we to keep him for the final year of his contract. I know Merty and Kos are the preferred centre back pairing but if we could persuade him to see out the final year of his deal to help mould Jenks into the brilliant right-back we know he will be that could only be a good thing. He could be that on field coach for the young Jenkinson knowing exactly what's needed having bombed up and down that right flank for his career. I do think our squad now has the right balance of youth and experience and getting one more year from Sagna would be fantastic. The criticism he has received at times this season has been un-warranted. Yes he has made a few mistakes this season but it’s only after 5 years of sterling service. It’s only now I realised he’s only human. But seriously, with abs like the ones in the picture above you can be forgiven for thinking he wasn’t human! Super ability coupled with such impressive determination meant that no cause was lost if it was on Sagna’s radar. I remember this goal saving clearance like it was yesterday! Supreme determination! 

One leg break, let alone two, are difficult injuries to return from. But return he did and he’s rarely if never given less than 100% for the team. His recent error against Man United led to a double error such was his determination to make up for the first error. That’s determination to right a wrong. We all know over determination can lead to two wrongs but I forgive when there’s 100% dedication and commitment to the cause by the player. My belief in his ability to shift from right to centre back is one that comes from watching Thuram make a similar move from right back to centre back while playing for Juventus. Like Sagna, Thuram was a top quality right back, quick in the tackle, strong and his reading of the game was fantastic. All the skills which are necessary to make the move to centre back. 
Keeping this attitude and player in the squad can only be a positive for Arsenal for next season. This season has been a very tough one and we’ve no one to blame for its toughness as it was caused solely by ourselves during the early part of the season. But look at our form since January. If we can continue with this newly found grit and determination into next season, coupled with a few offensive additions I believe we are looking at an Arsenal side capable of challenging for the title. In my view, Sagna could be a big part of this. No Arsenal fan can forgot thee defining gritty and determined goal of the last couple of seasons!

BOOMPH! What a header! What's that? From another angle you say? No problem!

Shiver me timbers! That was a goal

 Obviously it is all dependent on what the man himself wants but he's been a fantastic player for us since 2007 and I'd show the same determination to keep him as he has shown on his right wing since he first sprinted up it

My Tribute to the Commander

I meant to post this a few days ago and it slipped my mind so apologies for the late and brief tribute Commander!
So the legend that is Commander Hadfield has left the International Space Station. The man who brought us into orbit with him and shared so many wonderful glimpses of our beautiful Earth has returned to terra firma and he should be returning to a lot of gratitude from all of us. I personally was lucky enough to have my home county featured on one of his flyovers. Even more amazingly he got us without cloud. Something that led me to believe he photoshopped his image! This website is amazing.  Kudos to the people who mapped out his pictures into lovely drop down options. From what I can tell, via Dara O’Briain, it was this guy that mapped it out so a big thank you to him!
The Commander is one lucky man however. Even in this day and age he has bosses that evidently don’t have a clue about social media. Their employee was up in space tweeting, playing space sounds on Soundcloud and ‘Youtube-ing’ to his heart’s content! Did the man get any actual work done up there I wonder?! How many billions in working hours did he cost his employers? Actually, now that I think of it, I’m glad the Commander is back. Hopefully the next Commander of the International Space Station actually does some work up there and gets off the Twitterer and Facebuk or whatever they’re called. IT’S NOT A HOLIDAY CAMP SPACE PEOPLE.
On a more serious note, in the last number of years, we have seen the United States decimate its funding of NASA while its military budget is ever increasing: both are to the detriment of humanity. Not only is NASA’s core budget cut for sending shuttles to space, its outreach program is also being destroyed. Commander Hadfield should act as an inspiration to governments around the globe to quit both cuts to education and austerity measures and pump money into science and education. It should be noted the interest this man garnered from the Earth’s populace. Imagine a new age of cooperation among nations and a space race that was not about one country winning, but everyone. Just imagine the technologies that could be invented due to massive investment in new research and people. Look at the jump humanity took when NASA was receiving a mere 4% of the US’ Federal budget in the 1960’s. Sadly since then, NASA’s budget has continuously shrunk. It didn’t even receive half a percent of total Federal funds this year. That is criminal. I mean compare it to the funds the Energy Corporations receive. Massive, profit making, tax avoiding, Earth polluting, energy companies. The figures are terrible.
Upon landing (and at the time of writing) he had amassed 969,338 Twitter followers. Imagine if we could get more people in such wonderfully privileged positions to engage so wonderfully with the general populace. Give people proper role models in life with proper aspirational goals. You would hope that stories like this are true and that he does inspire more and more people to dream about space. That can only have a knock on effect in terms of funding and humanities evolution as a species.
Of course there can’t be many people who didn’t see or at least know about his amazing penultimate departure day serenade! David Bowie’s Space Oddity never looked so good and with over six million views – the world agrees! Can you imagine having written that song, how awesome it must have been to have it performed so fantastically by an actual astronaut?! Actual space footage to go with your words? It sent chills through me watching that video and listening to the words! The Commander has inspired us and governments should ride this wave of inspiration and drive ourselves on for a new scientific age.
I mean when you glimpse at a selection of his best photos it is truly awe inspiring to think of the possibilities for better understanding our planet and its wonders.
So for reminding me of just how amazing our home, Earth, is and just how lucky I am to have a chance at living on this planet, I humbly thank thee.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Musical Mutterings: Encore un Fois

This week I’ve been utilising my Spotify to hear some splendidly eclectic music.  Public Service Broadcasting possibly stood out for me. They’re a London based duo according to who remix up old TV sound bites and for good measure, they mish mash banjo, guitar, drums and electronic into the mix. Really unique sound I have to say. I like a bit of the old spoken word, Gil-Scott Heron being one of those that tickles my fancy, but this was something uniquely different. Lit Up commences with a lovely melodic intro which leads into the following broadcast: “Once again we’re taking you on board HMS Nelson for a description of the scene at Spider Head [I couldn’t pick up the exact name] tonight by Lieutenant Commander Thomas Woodrum…….. At the present moment the whole fleet is lit up…."

The crackling of the broadcast, the voices of the past, the music of the present lends to a really nice ambiance of sound, if that makes any sense! They’re playing in Cork on May 30th and if anyone is reading this from Cork, I’d highly recommend going to Cypress Avenue to check them out. Ironically I’ll be in where their base is, London, on that night. Quite annoyed at that. In the Guardian’s G2 magazine on May 3rd, they described how Public Service Broadcasting perform before a bank of old TV sets showing manipulated footage from the films they get their sound bytes from. Reminds me of both British Sea Power and God Is An Astronaut. Should make for an interesting gig.

I listened to their Spotify sampler and the six tracks available on it were all impressive. I liked Everest a lot. It was a fast paced, lively song. I think it’s at the top of my shopping list when I get a bit of money again. Check them out anyway.

This week I also listened to and was glad I found a wonderful band called Haiku Salut. Their album Tricoloure is a lovely light, floatsy glide along album. Their use of accordions, ukeleles, glockenspiels, pianos, loopery and laptopery (’s description) makes for a splendidly different album. You honestly don’t know what to expect from one song to the next. You listen to a rock album, you expect rock. You listen to this, you honestly don’t know where it’s bringing you but you trustingly go along for the journey and it does not disappoint you. Beautifully uplifting, there’s a zest to the album that I haven’t heard in a debut album before. Sounds Like There’s a Pacman Crunching Away at Your Heart typifies the album. It sounds like it could be a sad, crushing song of despair, of lost love, but it’s a beauty of a song. I urge a listen. Leaf Stricken is just something totally different following on. It’s the laptopery, loopy stuff described before but strangely it just fits right in. Not expecting or anticipating any particular journey when listening to this album is a major plus. The different sounds they fit in add to the incredible musical journey Haiku Salut offer. Again – definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

Otherwise I spent a bit of time making up a 20 track, fast rock playlist. Check it out and let me know what you think!