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Top Guns

"Top Guns" focuses on Arsenal's fortunes in the 1990s, and the developments, games, players and personalities, which shaped the decade. Those ten years were the most thrilling and turbulent in the club's history. Fans were treated to a cascade of silverware, and watched the scoring exploits of the club's most prolific striker - Ian Wright. The Gunners' greatest post war talent - Dennis Bergkamp, helped to push the team's style of play onto a higher plane and captain Tony Adams marshalled a defence whose longevity defies belief. But as Arsenal charged headlong into the digital age, so the Taylor report, the Graham affair, the Bond Scheme and the impact of Sky T.V. strained many fans' relationship with the club. Heroic deeds on the pitch combined with upheaval behind the scenes; it was to be the story of "Arsenal in the '90s".The summer of 1990 provided clear evidence that old orders and beliefs were about to be swept away. Out of touch Eastern European dictators were toppled weekly, the Iron Lady was clearly suffering from battle fatigue and Presidents Bush and Gorbachev declared the end of the Cold War. Nelson Mandela's release from prison signalled the dismantling of apartheid, which pleased everyone, it seemed, except stressed out University Chancellors who had to rename their Student Union bars pretty bloody sharpish. The hype surrounding Italia '90 provided broad hints that football was also changing irrevocably and was set to become 'cool'. Gazza's antics (you remember - tears, tantrums and plastic tits) ensured that a generation of children were kitted out with Gazza lunchboxes, Gazza duvets ad nauseum. And programmes like Panorama question why so many teenagers are hyperactive and badly behaved. Having Gazza as your role model when you're barely out of nappies may provide the answer. Though the lard-arsed Geordie's face was the enduring image of the World Cup, the team's anthem spoke volumes for football's newfound status. For years footie songs had been garbage but when New Order's "World In Motion", including the John Barnes rap, was thrust on the nation's youth in pubs and clubs it was an instant hit. This was no mean achievement, considering that the summer was so rich musically. The Creation label spawned the likes of Ride, whose shoe-gazing antics and hazy guitar sounds made them hits among the student population. "The Charlatans and Stone Roses" showered us with mournful, moody and psychedelic echoes and the Happy Mondays' dance inspired anthems and general bagginess meant that 'Madchester', apparently, was the place to be that summer (unless you didn't like flairs or Mancunians).A Ska revival was also in full swing - but most footie fans will maintain that World in Motion was the most memorable sound of the summer. It was a watershed moment in English football. Quite simply, the football and music industries were entering into a marriage that would last well into the millennium, although the signs had been there for a while; "The Wedding" presents George Best album for instance. In the '89/90 season, Arsenal seemed reluctant to take the bullet train ride into football's Promised Land. Early cup exits against QPR and Oldham, together with fourth place in the league, amounted to a 'treading water' season in Tony Adams' words. Not a single Gunner represented his country at Italia '90. So, having failed to capitalise on the 'Anfield experience', Arsenal players also missed the chance to participate in the most high profile World Cup of the era. But showbiz, music, T.V. and wadges of cash penetrated even Highbury's marble halls by the end of the decade. Ian Wright would cut a record and present a chat show. Tony Adams dated super model Caprice and Paul Merson became hooked on the recreational drug of the rich and famous. Staggeringly, King George himself would eventually be swept away on a tidal wave of financial scandal. Clear proof therefore, that outside influences sculpted AFC's profile throughout the 90s.In a sense, this book also focuses on two vastly different playing styles. George's earthy, blue-collar sides swept up a Championship and assorted Cups in the first part of the decade but by '95 major internal surgery was urgently needed to restore the team to former glories. When David Dein summoned Arsene Wenger to fumigate the lingering stench of scandal after the Rioch fiasco, he ushered in a new era. The Wenger-inspired passing game, blended with George's defensive legacy, brought the "Double to Highbury" in his first full season. It suggested that all the blood letting and horror of the mid '90s was actually beneficial in the long-term. After all, the later '90s really did represent a French revolution, and le Marseillaise would truly have been a fitting tribute to the '98 side. Some reckoned that by winning the Double so early in his Arsenal career, Arsene had immediately exorcised George's ghost. Subsequent events suggested that may not be the case and, with the passing years, George's achievements appear more and more remarkable. Allied to a proposed move away from Highbury and the gradual disintegration of the side's defensive core, the very late '90s were bizarre times for true Arsenal fans. The quality of football on show was the best in living memory but many feared that the soul of the club was in danger of ebbing away. All of this, however, is some way off in a story, which begins in the summer of 1990. Highbury buzzed with transfer activity and George's 'best of British' side was about to take the league by storm.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Page 7 Introduction Page 9 Chapter 1 Awesome Arsenal Page 12 Chapter 2 Down The Wright Path Page 37 Chapter 3 Cup Kings Page 56 Chapter 4 One Nil To The Arsenal Page 77 Chapter 5 The Bitter End Page 95 Chapter 6 Who's The Boss? Page 116 Chapter 7 Wenger's Arsenal Page 134 Chapter 8 At The Double Page 155 Chapter 9 The Bigger Picture Page 184 Appendices Page 205

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