We here at Gunners Town were honoured to be invited by Arsenal Football Club
to witness first- hand, the unveiling of the new away kit at the Emirates Stadium
yesterday afternoon. @jeremylebor,
@goonerdave66 and @FindingCotton were in attendance…
The “Audacious Stunt”
It was a blistering
hot day, and the proceedings were unfashionably late! There were quite a few
supporters watching on, but we were afforded the privilege of going into the
press area right opposite the unveiling and podium – Tom Watt, Ex- Eastender
star and mad Gooner, compered the proceedings.
Arsenal fashion there was a show in store, as four guys were perched at the top
of the stadium holding a very large black awning. At the appropriate moment,
accompanied by music, they abseiled down the front of the stadium to reveal a
fresh look of six British Arsenal players all wearing the new yellow and blue
The six British
players, namely, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Theo
Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs were all watching on dressed in the full
new kit with blue track-suit tops on, before removing their track suit tops to
reveal the full new yellow and blue away kit. With this being the final year of
Nike’s contract with Arsenal, something special was always going to be on the
cards! – It didn’t disappoint.
The Interview and stuff…
So, Gunners Town,
along with @LittleDutchVA, @arseblognews and @Gingers4Limpar were given the opportunity
of interviewing (grilling more like!) Carl Jenkinson, in a one on one (or six
on one!) basis. The six of us were taken to the player’s lounge. When we walked
in, Theo Walcott was being interviewed for The Arsenal Magazine. Jack Wilshere,
Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain made brief appearances
too, before Carl Jenkinson was ushered our way.
was introduced to us all by the Communications Department, and much to the
amusement (or annoyance… haha) of the other five, I proceeded to discuss with
him his tattoos, and the fact we shared the same tattoo artist. That
conversation was to continue at the end of the interview!
After Carl sought
approval of the Communications Department who were watching on, we all placed
on the table a variety of smart phones and recording devices to record the
interview. I must say, having sat with him and the others guys for some 20
minutes or so, he is a very nice coherent, grounded and personable 21 year old
lad. Actually, he is just as I expected.
Prior to our
interview, we here at Gunners Town
asked our readers (and writers) to send in questions for us to ask Carl. Time
did not permit for every question to be asked and similar questions may have
been asked by the others in any event, but you will see we asked as many as we
A big thank you
to @arseblognews who transcribed
the interview verbatim. I have listened back to the entire interview I recorded
on my iphone, and it is spot on… So here we go:-
LDVA – Abou Diaby vacated the number 2 shirt recently;
did you have your eye on it at all?
Obviously it’s something I had my eye on because
number 2 is a traditional right-back’s number. I’d love to wear it at some
stage, but I’m in this number  this year as far as I know. It’s something
you’ve got to earn I think. When I’m established and I’m the regular right-back
it’s something I’d be a bit more comfortable wearing. It’s something I feel I
can earn. I’ve had the number 25 for two seasons now and although it crossed my
mind [changing] I’ll keep the same one. Hopefully at some stage I’ll wear that
Gunners Town – How is it working with Bacary Sagna,
are you learning a lot from him, the season international that he is?
I’ve learnt so much from him over the last couple
of years. He’s one of the best and it’s been privilege training with him. He’s
a fair bit older than me, an experienced head like him talking me through
training and give me tips and this and that…I’ve learnt a lot from him. The
thing with Bac is he’s such a nice fella. I respect him as a player, but also
as a teammate and a friend. He’s such a top guy. I’ve learnt a lot off him and
I’m sure there’s more I can.
G4L – I often wonder how players feel about
transfers at this time of the season. Of course, you want to win stuff and to
have good players come in, but how do you feel when the club are linked to
established right-backs? Is that just the way it is?
As a footballer you quickly realise how much you
read in the paper isn’t really the case. Until you see a player walk through
the door it’s not something you should worry about. There’s so much speculation
and so much of it isn’t true. If you took everything you read in the papers
literally we’d be signing ten players a day. Until someone walks through the
door don’t take it [to heart].
G4L – When a new player does walk through the door
do players see it as part of the modern game, you have two players per position
and you fight it out, or is there resistance to it?
In the modern day you have two players in each
position but it’s up to you to make sure you’re the first choice. Not many
managers would go through a season with one full-back for example, you need to
have two. If there’s two you want to be the best and the one playing. That’s
all there is to it really.
Arseblog News – When there is a lot of transfer
speculation flying around is it something you joke about in the dressing room?
You know what, and this is the honest truth, we
don’t really discuss it. It’s not something we talk about, that’s the honest
truth. You read stuff in the papers and like I said so much of it never turns
out to happen.
Gunners Town – Would you look forward to working
with Gareth Barry?
[Sharp look towards Arsenal
communications officer, laughter all round followed by silence.]
Arseblog News – Are your personal aims for the
season ahead different to those you set yourself 12 months ago?
Massively. This season I want to be playing every
week so my aims have changed a lot. Last season I think realistically I knew
Bacary was going to be the first choice right-back and I was going to have to
deal with that and change it through the season. Going into this season, from a
personal perspective, I want to be playing. I don’t know what the boss is
thinking, but it’s up to me in pre-season to show what I’m capable of.
Hopefully I want to be starting the season, that’s what I want to be doing.
I’ve got back to compete with Bac and he’s a world class player so it’s not
going to be easy. I would be lying though if I said it wasn’t my aim.
Gunners Town – Leading on from that, does the boss
ever sit you down and explain what he’s thinking regarding playing time?
Of course, but it’s obviously something which is
kept between the manager and the player. He will talk to you at certain stages
during the season and often not something that’s plan. Off the cuff he might
pull you to one side and say, ‘Look, this is where you are at the moment; this
is what you need to improve on…’ It’s the same with every player; most managers
do that to help develop their players. He [Arsene] does that with us and from a
player perspective that’s very beneficial. I’ve played under managers when I
was younger and they’d go a whole season without talking to you and you don’t
know where you stand and what you can improve on. To be fair to the boss you
never have that [here]. He’s always telling, whether through the other coaches
or whatever, what you need to work on and what you need to improve.
Gunners Town – Was there a big difference when Steve
Bould came into the first team fold, a guy of his stature being involved?
Well obviously we had Pat Rice before so we had
someone of that calibre before. I learnt a lot off Pat and obviously he played
in the same position as me so you know he taught me a lot. When Bouldy came in,
he was more like my era, so I could relate to him a bit more.
You call him Bouldy to his face?
Oh yeah, Bouldy, yeah…It’s great having him on
board as well. I think in terms of coaches, it’s always great to have a coach
who’s been there and done it. As a player you do still look up to them and
think, ‘You don’t argue with that, he’s done it and been there and achieved
great things.’ There’s a lot of respect from the players towards him [Bould].
He’s brought in his own stamp with regards the defensive work and what we’ve
been doing. I can’t remember [exactly] but I know we had a good defensive
record last season so it’s obviously been working. I think we improved a lot
G4L – Last season the team seemed to defend a lot
deeper and tighter, is that something that happened consciously, something
which was introduced last summer?
Yeah, we’ve done a lot more shape work. Since
Bouldy has come he’s been working on a specific drill which revolves around
shape and pressing when you should press and dropping when you should drop. I
guess the answer to your question is yes, we’ve worked on it. I think so far
it’s been working.
LDVA– We’ve spoken a bit about people mentoring
you, Steve Bould, Pat Rice, Bacary Sagna. Hector Bellerin has just signed a new
contract at the club and is coming up behind you having really taken the eye
this year in the Reserves. How aware are you not just of the competition from
Hector but also the mentoring role as he comes through? That’s something new to
I’m only 21 myself and I think Hector is 18 so I’ve
got a few years on him and I’m sure there are a few things I can teach him. I
know a lot about Hector, he’s trained with us a few times now and he’s looks a
very good prospect. It’s good to have that. It pushes me and it pushes him, you
push each other. It’s good to have competition. He’s obviously a very good
player and he’s done well last year so it’ll only benefit the squad next year
if he’s with us more. Competition is always healthy.
Arseblog News – You signed your contract alongside
four of the other British squad members and you all launched the kit together
today. A lot has been made of the ‘British core’ do you find that it adds extra
pressure or is it a case of strength in numbers?
I don’t see it as added pressure. It’s a nice thing
that we’re all of a similar age, that we’ve all signed together, that we’re all
good friends. I see it as a positive; I don’t think there are any negatives. I
really enjoy it, I enjoy the boys company and I enjoy playing with them.
Gunners Town – When you signed there was a big deal
made about the fact you could play anywhere across the back four. Is it now a
case something you’ve put that to one side in your mind or are you definitively
For me personally, not at all [has he given up on
being a centre-back]. Obviously the boss picks the team and he has the main
say. I’d say right-back is my position…it’s where I enjoy playing the most, but
I played a lot of my youth career at centre-half up until I was 18. A lot of
people have said often to me that they prefer me as a centre-half so that’s an
option of course. I think it’s always been strength of mine that I can play in
a few different positions. Right-back is now my main position, but I can
definitely play centre-half as well. I can even play at left-back as well.
LDVA– Have you ever had, or do you still have, an
Arsenal bedspread, Arsenal curtains, or Arsenal pyjamas?
No, no I don’t [now]…I’m going to have to
disappoint you there. My room in my parent’s house is still exactly the same,
it hasn’t changed. I’ve got my own place now and there aren’t any Arsenal bedspreads.
I don’t think my old room will ever be changed though; it’s a nice thing to
LDVA – I’m going to tell everyone you said yes…
[Laughter all round]
G4L – Is it difficult striking a balance between
being a player and a fan? There aren’t many players who are in that position…
I think it’s something that is difficult. It is
difficult, especially early on. I found it difficult and all very strange to go
from sitting in the stands the season before to walking in and shaking the boy’s
hands and coming to terms with them being my new work colleagues. It’s very
strange. It’s difficult to explain. I’d be lying if I said it was any
different. As time goes by things change and you become more comfortable in the
environment. I enjoy it a lot more now than I used to. When I first signed, and
in my first couple of weeks, it was all very daunting. It takes time adjusting
to it but from my point of view now I couldn’t ask for anything more, it’s the
biggest privilege in the world to be able to play for Arsenal having been a
fan. To pull on an Arsenal shirt every week is such an honour for me and my
family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
G4L – How do the other players feel about you being
I got a bit of banter off the boys when they saw my
[Arsenal] bedspreads [at my parent’s house] but they’re cool.
Gunners Town – What’s your earliest memory of being
an Arsenal fan as a kid?
I remember where I sat at Highbury, it’s very
clear. I remember the lady who sat next to me. I’d love to meet her now; I’d
love to see if she’s still sat at the Emirates now. My memory is awful, so in
terms of games and stuff I’m terrible at recalling stuff, but I just loved the
whole match day vibe. We used to park up, walk through Finsbury Park if it was
a sunny day…I loved the build-up to the game. I used to go with my old man and
my brother. I used to like the cheese bagels at half-time; I was a big fan of
them. All the little strange things stick in my head, like the peanut guy who
used to be in the stadium. He’s not here anymore…
Gunners Town – If you could choose any past Arsenal
star to play alongside, who would it be?
It’s a difficult one. My hero has always been Tony
You’ve met him?
Yeah, I’ve met him a few times now and he’s a top
bloke as well.
Gunners Town – A couple of light-hearted but important questions asked by our writers… Darren Berry would like to know where you keep your tomato ketchup? Fridge or Cupboard?
Good question, always the fridge!
Gunners Town – And Chris Mader, our German correspondent asks: “Is Podolski the craziest player
in the dressing-room?”
Yeah. [Laughter all round]
Arseblog News – Last question before you go.
Arsenal are playing in Finland at the end of the summer. Are you expecting them
to be burning effigies seeing as you chose England over them at international
level or hoping for a warm welcome?
[Laughs] I don’t know actually. I
was speaking to my parents about it. They said ‘don’t worry about it, it’ll be
fine.’ I don’t know if I’ll get a good reception or bad. I’ll soon find out.
It’ll be interesting; hopefully it’ll be alright…
So following on
from the group interview, we were chatting with Carl and had the opportunity of
asking him a couple of more questions… (shhhh don’t tell anyone!)
Since your England Debut, how do you feel about playing for your country. You
don’t want that Tottenham bloke getting your position, do you?
No, no. To be
honest, I just want to concentrate firstly on being first choice right back for
Arsenal. That is my priority.
What do you think of Tottenham?
[Laughs a lot] – I’m not really allowed to say to be honest. [Laughs again] – Very diplomatic.
We then had the
opportunity of a few photos, and Carl seemed very happy and keen to accommodate
us. Carl and I talked more about tattoo’s… Well let’s just leave it at that.
Thank you very
much to Carl Jenkinson for taking the time to talk to us (all of us), and a
huge thank you to all at Arsenal
Football Club, and in particular the Communications Department for facilitating
and allowing us the opportunity of speaking with Carl and the others players.
the interview with Carl Jenkinson, and while we were hanging around, Alex
Oxlade Chamberlain was waiting to be interviewed by the press. There was a bit
of banter flying around and I said to him:-
“I remember very well seeing your dad play…”
was sublime (at my cost)
“You must be really old then” [lots and lots of laughter]
“Cheeky git” was my retort [Even more laughter] “I want a photo for that.”
“No problem” Alex happily obliged!
We then chatted
in general, and I must say he seemed very relaxed, and is a really nice and
very well-mannered lad too. We talked about his recent England goal, which he
seemed quite coy about, but that shows the level head he seems to have on his
shoulders. We chatted about banter in the dressing room, how all of the younger
British guys get on pretty well with each other and he said that both he and
Carl had plenty of banter between them that the other players didn’t
understand. We laughed about Per (The BFG) being the enforcer, and he said he
didn’t want to get on his bad side! Haha.
Clearly, the camaraderie
in the dressing room is good, and he said that Jack Wilshere often joined in with
the banter, despite appearing quiet. Incidentally, it was great to hear that
Jack expects to be fully fit for the forthcoming campaign. Good news indeed!
Dave @goonerdave66, then proceeded to
also recount how he remembers Mark Chamberlain (Alex’s Dad) very well, as he
actually coached Dave’s son, Liam, when he was on trial at Portsmouth. Mark
Chamberlain was a coach at Portsmouth at the time. Dave recalled remembering
how Alex was often sitting in his Southampton tracksuit as a 14/15 year old
waiting for his Dad to finish taking the training session.
So of course
there was yet another photo opportunity… Thanks Alex!
After a great
afternoon, Carl was then going off for another interview elsewhere within the
Emirates, and it was time for us to leave.
The final words
were reserved for The Ox, who said to me as we were departing:-
“Considering you’re old (sic), you’ve worn very
“I’m not that old” was my comeback.
“He’s really only 35” Said Dave. (No Dave, even I accept that I can’t
pass for 35!)
“Really good to meet you” were Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s final words…
Likewise Alex, likewise!