I don’t even know where to start this morning. I don’t even know which part of the shambolic day that was provided for us at The Emirates to look at. And more to the point, put of me can’t even be arsed to write a blog today. But I’m looking at it as an opportunity to get some thoughts down on the proverbial paper, then I think I’ll switch my laptop off and avoid anything sports related until the next game that we have. There’s no point looking at Twitter, there’s no point watching Sunday Supplement, there’s no point flicking over to Sky Sports News and there certainly won’t be any point to flicking on to TalkShite tomorrow when I get back from work and need to make a Monday night chilli.
Perhaps I’ll start with how I’m feeling, rather than the game itself, because that in itself, is worrying me. I don’t feel angry. I don’t feel bitter or morose. I didn’t find myself struggling to get off to sleep like I usually do after Arsenal suffer a defeat. I don’t really feel anything. There is a degree of ambivalence to when I think about The Arsenal. A reluctant acceptance of what happened yesterday as a sign of an inevitable failing of the club to live up to its self proclaimed mantra of moving ‘FORWARD’. And when you look at the former motto of the club - Victoria Concordia Crescit – or ‘Victory through harmony’, you can see that even that has been cast asunder right now.
There is no harmony at the club. The relationship between the fans and the club is at its lowest ebb since Arsene became manager, built up after Groundhog Day like seasons in which we have seen the gradual decline of the quality of the team without the needed replenishment of ‘super super quality’ players, but still resulting in the excitement of managing to get a top four spot by scrambling over the line by the time May comes around. Never more so was this distance emphasized than the toxic atmosphere that greeted the manager when the third Villa goal went in. I’ve heard the ‘spend some fucking money’ chants before, but it has never been sung with such passion, by so many, from throughout the ground. Where I stand in Block 5, you can always hear singing and we’re always involved in it, but that chant yesterday sounded like it came from the whole stadium.
Do I agree with it? Will it have helped the players? Yes and No. Yes I agree with the sentiment (who doesn’t?), and no it wouldn’t have helped the players, but the man charged with getting those players motivated and firing on all cylinders is at the heart of all that went wrong yesterday. Arsene Wenger is not the Arsene Wenger we all know. He is a relic of a Premier League that is long since forgotten. A time before the hyperinflation of billionaires changed the way football works. He is an old-school manager that thinks everything should be run through him and he has restructured the club so that he and he alone has the power to influence anything. And that just doesn’t work in today’s footballing world. You can’t head off to Asia and think ‘it’s fine, we’ll sort something out with players when we get back’. Other teams don’t. Other teams are working whilst they’re on their tours. Much like how we don’t seem to understand today’s big transfers and how to deal with them, it wouldn’t surprise me to know we didn’t really even know how to deal with heading off on a tour, preferring to send the whole staff and not have some people also working on bringing players in.
This is also what has led to my general apathy I’m afraid. I’ve spent half the blog talking about stuff which has nothing to do with the match yesterday. I’m not watching any replays, I don’t want to go through the pain again, but shocking refereeing aside, we looked very familiar to the side that rocked up at The Emirates a couple of seasons ago on the first home game of the season against Liverpool and lost 2-0. That team was managed by Kenny Dalgleish and it set the tone for the early part of the season. That LIverpool team was bang average and yet because of the Nasri and Fabregas situation that had happened during the summer, we were in turmoil. Koscienly went off injured early on leaving us – with a threadbare squad already due to injury (sound familiar?) – with a mountain to climb. Which was made more difficult by a Frimpong sending off with 20 minutes to go (sound familiar?) that made the chance of winning the game very difficult. The game included a Nasri that clearly didn’t want to be there and we looked all over the place. Arsene knew we were light in a few areas and so, after an 8-2 thrashing just before the deadline to Manchester United – who we saw as our rivals – he went out and bolstered the squad with Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos and Park. Fast forward two seasons and we’ve lost the first game of the season to a bang average team, we’ve suffered more injuries to a threadbare squad, plus we have the added bonus of playing our local rivals just before the transfer window shuts. Sounds like thee script has already been written, doesn’t it?
And yet I still haven’t been able to go into the detail of the match. Maybe that’s because part of me is thinking ‘what’s the point? They’ve read it all before. hell, they could probably go back into your archives and read similar blogs that have been written already’ – like I say, very Groundhog Day-like.
But let’s try to find something to talk about, shall we? Giroud’s first goal was well taken and we all hoped it would set the tone for the day. But unfortunately the casual way in which Agbonlahor sauntered into the penalty blogs through the Arsenal midfield and defence as if they weren’t there set the tone. Szczesny’s comical clearance from outside the box and then scrambling back to his goal to prevent being lobbed set the tone. Kieran Gibbs coming off with an injury forcing Sagna to play at left back for most of the match set the tone. Antony Taylor giving a second penalty for a good tackle from Koscienly and then moments later sending him off for a soft second bookable offence, whilst allow Rosicky shortly afterwards to be scythed down by Vlaar, who had already been booked, set the tone. You really couldn’t make it up – every that could possible go wrong went wrong yesterday.
Against a backdrop of serious mismanagement that has happened over the summer, it made for a cauldron of anger in N5 yesterday, except for this blogger, for some reason. I went along to the game with Ben and afterwards I was actually laughing about how farcical our situation has now become. Ben told me it was either that or cry, but I’m just not sure I could even muster the effort for that right now. I feel numb. Empty. Devoid of any kind of hope for the season and as a result apathy reigns in my head. I don’t want to be like this. I want to feel the excitement. I want to feel like we’re going to challenge. I want Arsenal to at least show that they care and they have the same ambitions we all do for the club. But I just don’t feel like that’s the case. The club want too keep going with their stockpiling mission. They want to continue to accumulate the already bulging wealth that they have. As a microcosm example of this, I see that the club have decided to add another 50p to the price of the matchday programmes. Hey, what’s 50p, we won’t notice, right? And besides, we all get a sticker album and stickers in each programme that we can collect throughout the season and make sure we buy every single programme, so that’s alright, isn’t it? Football isn’t really that expensive anyway with the football shirts, price of food and drink in the stadium or most expensive season tickets in the country. But hey, I’m sure the owner is looking closely at his toy and thinking about ways in which he can improve the football….
That’s it from me. Save, publish, switch off, avoid all sporting media channels for 24 hours. Back tomorrow with something else to talk about.