Friday 25 October 2013

Meet The Gooner Family [Jeremy & Janean, Salt Lake City]

Meet Jeremy Matthews and his partner, Janean. These lovely people, along with their many cats, were my hosts in Salt Lake City, and did a fine job of showing me around the sights in the short time that I had there. 

No cats in this picture
Q. Why Arsenal?
Ultimately the glory of Arsenal is that we tried to do everything with class and whater issues people have with Arsene Wenger they can see he is a man that not only wants to win, but wants to win in the right way. He doesn't want to go to the excesses that other teams might go down.

Q. Started Supporting Arsenal?
My sister and I were in Europe during the Euro Cup in 2000 and unfortunately we decided to follow England (and didn't know any better), the favourite part of the matches was watching David Seaman, we enjoyed his play but we especially appreciated the way he shouted at his teammates after every defensive mishap, of which there were many. At the time we didn't know of Arsenal but we enjoyed his personality on and off the pitch. At our house we didn't have the cable channels that were shown in the Premier League, so a few years later we got the Fox Soccer Channel, we watched a few games. We watched the games post-Invincebles. I remember the Champions League Group game against CSKA in November 2006 and I really fell in love with Arsenal at that point because despite it being a goalless draw, we had so many chances and I just remember the despair in never seeing a goal (but still finishing top of the group and qualifying for the next round).

Q. Favourite Player?
Thierry Henry is a personal favourite. During the period I was watching, he was always just a pleasure to watch, he finished like no other and made it look so easy. He was the first legend I saw, in the making.

Q. Favourite current Player?
I love Rosicky and I'd like to see him win something with the club, his work-rate is fantastic and he takes our game to a different level when he's on the pitch.

Q. Favourite Arsenal moment?
The Champions League match against Barcelona where Arshavin scored the winner. I think the reason why it's such a fond memory is because everybody that was around me was elated. People in the pub were saying they could go back to work and get fired but it would still be a great day for them.

Q.Where do you watch Arsenal in Salt Lake City?
Fiddlers Elbow, which is a 5 minute drive or a 10-15 minute bike ride. I make pretty much every game at the Weekend unless it's very early, where the pub doesn't open, in which case I'll watch it at home. I travel on occasion and will like to see the local Arsenal pub wherever I may be, the Fox and Hounds in Los Angeles being a good example.

Q. Emirates or Highbury?
I love the history of Highbury but I have a personal connection to The Emirates as I've been there for a few games, so the The Emirates has to top it for me, but I will always acknowledge that Highbury was an amazing stadium with some great stories.

Q. League Prediction?
We're going to win the league! Looking at the squad and looking at how our talented players are taking it to the next level this season, we have a great future. Ramsey, Giroud, Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere. This is a trophy-winning team.

Q. Who will be Arsenal's player to watch this season?
There are multiple people that could be Arsenal's Player Of The Season this year, I would tend to lean towards Giroud because of his team-play, he scores goals but he assists and provides fantastic link-up play, and I think that's why Wenger bought him – not just because he's a goal scorer but because he creates goals too.

So that's it for Utah. Next stop is Vancouver, Canada, for a 4:45am kickoff. Uh-oh!


Arsenal 1-2 Borussia Dortmund (Fiddler's Elbow, Salt Lake City)

I'm in Salt Lake City, Utah the land of the Mormons and the latest city on my quest.

My 'unbeaten' run has come to an end, or at least that's the case for the Champions League. Thankfully, that #KeepGoonerOnTheRoad hashtag still applies to the Premier League, where we haven't lost a game whilst I've been out of the country.

Although my time in SLC was short, I managed to make the most of it by visiting the Mormon Temple and seeing some of the wonderful scenery on offer. For the first time, I had a rental car at my disposal so I took a drive into the mountains to see what Mother Nature had done to this continent when she was at her most creative. I wasn't disappointed, this was the first real opportunity I had to get away from all the concrete jungles I had stopped off at previously and, on the way it made me feel emotionally, it's been the highlight of my trip on the road so far.

Beautiful, and just a stones throw from Salt Lake City
The Gooners in Salt Lake City are few and far between in comparison to other supporters clubs, but there is no loss of passion. Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness this group at their most passionate because we lost to Dortmund and, as you can see by the picture below, we were all a bit down. They are all blaming it on the fact that, for the first time on the road, I was drinking an orange juice rather than a beer. They told me to get out of Utah...

Not exactly a happy bunch of Gooners after the Dortmund loss
The match itself was actually a good one for the neutral to watch. In the end we were subject to a few bad decisions and, despite Giroud demonstrating once again his determination levels, we succumbed to our first Champions League defeat of the season. We missed Flamini, whilst Özil had his quietest game so far in an Arsenal shirt. Still, it is what it is, we're still top of the group, still top of the league and we don't have to worry about playing a team called 'Sheriff' on Thursdays. And of course, we know what we're capable of doing to German opposition on their own turf.