CECH IT OUT!!!

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Arsenal's 2015 FA Cup win made them the most successful team in its history

DECADE

It was 10 years ago that Arsenal last won the English Premier League, winning the championship in style without a single loss. Since that momentous achievement a decade ago, barely given the credit its due, the team from North London suffered a hugely disappointing nine year dry spell, due in part to the financing of a move to a more lucrative, bigger stadium but perhaps also because of the loss of key players to more successful rivals. There is, however, an air of optimism for the side affectionately known as The Gunners, who having won back-to-back FA Cups and Community Shields for the past two seasons, now have their sights firmly set on winning the Premier League during the upcoming 2015/16 season.

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Arsenal: FA Cup Kings 2015

Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, certainly made his intentions clear on pushing for a stronger title challenge with the successful capture of World Class goalkeeper, Petr Cech, from bitter rivals Chelsea, for the bargain sum of £10m.

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Latest signing: Petr Cech

Petr Cech, who has won every trophy during his decade long stay at Chelsea, will, in the words of his former captain and friend, John Terry, “win Arsenal at least 10-15 more points.” This bodes well for the most successful FA Cup winning team in history, who’s success in the world’s most famous and oldest football competition was in part due to the signings of other equally world class players such as Santi Cazorla from Malaga, Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid and more recently, Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. Having paid off their stadium debts, helped by a virtually 60,000 plus sold out stadium each week, in addition to a 15th successive year in the UEFA Champions League, the manager along with the CEO, Ivan Gazidis, have assured fans that there is finance enough to compete with their rivals in ensuring a much closer challenge in the race for the title.

SUCCESS

The success of a team is not merely to do with the purchase of world class players (although this does help tremendously) but also in the harnessing of young home grown talent along with the fostering of a strong team spirit. Arsenal appear to have both these qualities in abundance with the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere rising through the ranks as youth before emerging as superstars within their own right.

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Theo Walcott opens scoring for Arsenal in 2015 FA Cup Win

Instead of leaving Arsenal, players now flock to the club and stay on, believing in the team spirit and thereby signing on to longer contracts in the process. The team, who along with the FA Cup now also hold the record for the most Community Shield wins, will be hoping to go that extra step forward by mounting a stronger challenge in both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. All the right ingredients appear to be in place, though if reports linking The Gunners to a pursuit of French and Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema are true, then it would be rather hard to bet against the team in red and white lifting that Barclays Premier League trophy come May 2016.

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Arsenal: FA Cup Winners 2015

(c) Copyright 2015, Darell J Philip

Photo Credits: Arsenal.com

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BOOK REVIEW: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (2015)

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‘Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.’

Written in the mid 1950’s and before her Pulitzer prize winning, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ Harper Lee’s highly anticipated sequel, ‘Go Set A Watchman’ is finally here!

Set two decades after ‘Mockingbird,’ Jean Louise Finch aka ‘Scout’ (now twenty-six years old) returns home from New York to visit her now rather frail father, Atticus. What would promise to be a happy homecoming for the much loved child narrator in ‘Mockingbird’ would instead become a bitter-sweet reunion for the now grown up Jean Louise as all that she thought she had known about her home, its people and her father are, to her dismay, shattered during a time of political uprisings and civil unrest. The deeper she delves into the lives of her family and of those she had been familiar with during her childhood is the more disturbing to her psyche as she grapples between the true values of her father and her own conscience.

During the release of ‘Watchman’ much attention had been given to what had been deemed as the controversial racial views upheld by the people of Maycomb, Alabama, including, rather surprisingly, Atticus, seen to be the beacon of hope and civil rights in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’ Upon closer inspection, what readers will find is a people fearful of change, sensing a lost of power and identity while through the lobbying of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), a people denied their civil rights and liberties are beginning to find their voice.

Harper Lee’s choice of book titles, often symbolic and biblical in nature, carry deeper meanings with poignant messages hidden within them. In this case, the ‘watchman’ being Jean Louise, who’s conscience is pricked between the views of her father and those of the coloured people whom she had always respected as a child.

As ever, Harper Lee treats the subjects of race and culture with the care and dignity they deserve while having readers empathise with the rather uncomfortable position Jean Louise finds herself in upon her discovery of certain truths not made known to her during her childhood.

‘Go Set A Watchman’ is a fantastic read which clearly demonstrates the issues of an era which in some ways are not too disimiliar to the American South of today.

A gripping read which will have readers talking about its themes and characters for many years to come.

(c) Copyright 2015, Darell J Philip