To hell with politics. Seven days is turning out to be a very long time in football. You would be forgiven for daring to forget that Liverpool “Mayweathered” Arsenal on Sunday. It would have been more productive if we wrote to the Premier League forfeiting the match and giving Liverpool a walkover. I suspect a 3 points cut, a 4 goal penalty and a hefty fine would have been acceptable for Arsenal fans around the world.
No, it had to get more bizarre. Clearly, we knew we had to get rid of players. We knew that Sanchez was staying. We knew that if the Chilean was to go to Manchester City, we would have to bid for Thomas Lemar. The sale of Gabriel Paulista was baffling enough when Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers were up for grabs. I submit to you that only the best clowns in the circus would wait for the last few hours to try pull off a simultaneous Sanchez sale and Lemar purchase. Why Oh Why do you wait until the 11th hour when this has always been on the table.
Only Fools and Oxes
We also damn well knew we were going to sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. To Chelsea, to Liverpool, to Lincoln City, who cares. We knew we would sell him. So what was all that nonsense in the first three Premier League games playing square pegs in round holes? Why were we trying to butter up and appease The Ox at the cost of team cohesion and balance? At Anfield, Sead Kolasinac must have been thinking “Jesus, Joseph and Mary”, what the hell did I just get into. Like many of you, Captain Haddock and his thousands of blistering barnacles couldn’t have captured what I was spitting out of my mouth when I saw the team sheet against Liverpool. Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal should have been the back three, with Le Coq and either Ramsey or Xhaka. I’d be surprised if the players themselves don’t turn around and ask “What the hell is wrong with the Gaffa”.
Saying that, it’s impossible to tell whether a change in personnel would have made a difference. Our players would have been better off at the Notting hill Carnival. They didn’t turn up at all. And that right there is the crux of the problem. Would Arsenal be worse off if all the players were put up for sale? You got that eerie feeling from the same weekend 6 years ago when we were torn a new ahole at Old Trafford. That was 3 days before the trolley service that brought in Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta and park, the Korean chap who was still on military service.
“I’ve Got Bigger Cojones Than Yours”
The silent pissing contest in the rear echelons of Highbury House between Ivan Gazidis and Wenger must be one of the most destructive in football. There has to be a pissing contest to explain the sheer mediocrity of player and contract management. It’s bad enough that the manager waited until the last possible minute to sign a new contract, one that many questioned anyway. Who’s in charge at Arsenal? The elephants are piling up in the room. They’re thrusting their trunks at us in contempt. They’re goading us, teasing us, daring us. “Deal with us you bastards. One elephant you can ignore, but you can’t ignore the whole herd”.
We’re faced with a situation of having a player in Alexis Sanchez who clearly doesn’t want to be at Arsenal. Having him in the team is like taking back a girlfriend who had already packed her bags, told you she doesn’t love you because you’ve got no game, and left to move in with a new boyfriend. It didn’t work out and she’s back, but just until it works out. The chances of him signing a new deal rank somewhere between zero and nil, and yet he’s in the team. What must the other players think about him? The preferential treatment he gets? How will a lover who wants you no more affect the team cohesion and spirit through the season?
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
Maybe the International break is a breath of fresh air. Time enough for the players to think whether they really want to be at Arsenal. Until January at least, we have what we have. Something has to give for things to improve. Jens Lehman and Steve Bould must be perplexed about the happenings in the team. In their day, I doubt if this lack of application and team spirit would have been acceptable, even amongst the players.
Apparently, Sunday’s match was the 20th time in 4 years that we’ve really got a good hiding and had a melt-down. Once is acceptable, twice you scratch your head, three times you call in the men with grey suits. 20 melt-downs is beyond bang out of order. It’s a conspiracy to torture Arsenal fans.
We should be examining the disturbing statistics that apart from Sunderland, Arsenal last season had the most shots on target against them. The rest of the top 6 didn’t get even half that. I’m even petrified of checking another alleged statistic – that in 3 years at Arsenal, Petr Cech has conceded more goals than he did in his 11 years at Chelsea. I don’t want to know the answer, because if it were true, a Trojan horse is the only thing that comes to mind. I Prefer to believe that we’ve just been pathetic at defending.
So we are where we are. 6 points down and a hell of a lot of lemonade to make from a typically pathetic but predictable bunch of lemons. This is the crazy thing. Every time Arsenal gets on the pitch, I live, I dream, I hope. There’s an inexplicable rush of adrenaline that courses through my veins. It’s exciting, it’s frustrating, it’s what football is made of. But as YW frequently says, it’s the hope that kills you.
Right now, I’ll take 3 points from Bournemouth. Anything beyond that is over reaching.