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Aston Villa-Arsenal: A Q & A With Theodore Harwood Of The Short Fuse

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Kirsten conducted the Q & A below a few days ago, but if her e-mail is to believed there is no internet access in the entire state of New Jersey.

For more coverage of Arsenal, visit the Short Fuse.

KS: How, exactly, do you learn to spell many of the Arsenal players' names? Are there mnemonic devices involved? Is there a quota on the number of vowels Arsenal can employ?

TH: I usually just keep wikipedia open. The diacritic marks don't really translate well into autotagging, though, so I leave those out. Once a person types "Szczesny" enough, though, it's all muscle memory.


As for the quota, well, Arsène Wenger is notoriously into numbers, stats, measurements, and economics, so I suppose it's possible?



KS: Are Arsenal players really lacking passion -- should they all be following the Wilshere method of tackling -- or is it simply that they're exhausted from dodging water bottles and trying to avoid eye contact with an injured Vermalen?

TH: First of all, it's spelled "Vermaelen" (see question 1). As for the passion, well, I think one of the problems that English football faces is the equation of "passion" with "tackling dangerously". There's obviously more to it than that, though. I wouldn't want to psychoanalyze players through my television set, but impressionistically, the players have lacked a little zip, seemingly, in some games. They looked good against Manchester United, though, that's for sure. I think that's because Vermaelen was in the building. I would run up the side of a mountain if he was staring at me.

KS: The Arsenal method -- "progressive" "European" "etc" -- just isn't working well enough. Is it time for Wenger to go, or does he just need to finally update his approach?

TH: It's not time for him to go. The average age of the squad was 23 this year, the team played almost the entire season without one of its top-choice center backs in Vermaelen (he couldn't even stare at the players the whole season--I'm convinced this would have helped), and Arsenal are still currently better than 18 other teams in the toughest league on the planet. There are issues, of course, that he can address: training to defend set pieces either better or in a different way; pressing better from the front, not just against Chelsea, but against all teams; not hitting the post so damn much.

The method not only has kept the club in the top four while building a new stadium, but it has also seen them cut through most opposition in the Champions League until they come up against a side that ends up winning the thing or thereabouts.

KS: Explain this.

TH: Well, you see, there is a man named Meerkat. He basically does what he wants, but one can rest assured that, in doing what he wants, he does everything with a wry smile and a supreme knowledge that the world exists but to amuse us.

I'm just surprised he wasn't wearing a t-shirt of himself dancing, while he was dancing.

KS: Samir Nasri: front or back?

TH: I'll say front, since the back is where his injured hamstring that's keeping him from being effective in 2011 is located.