I’m contemplating getting a therapist to cope with this Arsenal roller-coaster.
There I was on Wednesday night, wondering whether my iPad would survive if I threw it out of the window and it hit the pavement. For a split second, I did consider whether post-traumatic stress was a viable justification for an insurance claim.
That thought was rudely interrupted by Dan Roebuck and David Hillier, the Arsenal commentators screaming and jumping from their seats. The last time that happened was when Olivier Giroud scored his award-winning scorpion wonder goal against Palace literally a year ago. Back then, I could have sworn one of them cursed on air with excitement.
Wait! Hector Bellerin? I’ll be damned. So there I was again, screaming and jigging with “Hell Yeah!”, only to let out another howler when Zapacosta rattled the crossbar. Hesu Kristo! I deflated, utterly dumbfounded. The iPad was definitely going out of the window before I realized Chelsea hadn’t scored. My neighbours rushed to my door thinking I’d finally lost the plot and gone postal on myself.
“Oh, Arsenal must be playing”, one of them concluded after I opened the door with a sheepish smile.
Who Gives A Damn About The Neutrals, The Rope-a-dope Ain’t Good For the Heart
As if the Leicester, United and Liverpool games weren’t mad enough, what were the chances of another helter-skelter match at the Emirates?
I thoroughly enjoyed it until Hazard went down faster than a two dollar trick. After Dean’s cluster foxtrot on Sunday, the “C” word crossed the mind. I really don’t have an issue with a match decided by the players, but the refs? And twice in a row? What was the threshold for a conspiracy I wondered?
If Wenger was going to take one for the team with an FA ban or fine, you really hope his foul-mouthed dressing room rant at Dean was unadulterated and properly delivered.
Yet this is football, the reason we’re emotionally invested. We get pumped up with the hope that today will be something special. The day Li’l Jack, Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette give a master-class in the beautiful game. The signs are there – quick, assured sorties into the opponents final third. A deft flick over here, a give and go over there; a chance for a clinical practitioner to see the whites of the opposing keeper’s eyes as a ‘no look’ slide-rule pass is placed in front of them. You’re willing the ball to go into the net, ready to turn to the fella next to you with the “Did you see that move” sentiment.
We’re fools like that. Suckers at being drawn in, hoping for the romantic to happen. Only Arsenal decides that for the 4th time this season, it’ll be a rope-a-dope. Football writers complain there is no structure to the game, only to claim that these are the games that make the Premier League the best in the world. Somewhere in between that entertainment, we hope to forget that we forfeited 7 out of 12 available points.
Of FA Cup’s And Comfort Zones
The journey for another historical footnote starts on Sunday at the City ground. A chance to cement our place as the most successful FA Cup side of all time. It’s one of a total of 16 matches that if we win, can put a gloss on a typical season. The 16 games in the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa league are certainly worth risking to do a clean sweep of the 3 cups. I’m sure Man City and Atletico Madrid, not least the rest of the FA Cup suitors will have something to say about that. But why be in the competitions if you’re not prepared to win them?
It’ll be great to take a breather from the tedium of the Premier League. A chance for Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Le Coq, Theo and Welbeck to get some valuable pitch time. YW wished for some sanity to prevail and for Arséne to put Maitland-Niles back in the centre of the park, but I’ll be surprised if that happens. I can picture Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson firmly plonked in the wing-back positions with Le Coq, Willock and Elneny in the midfield. Whichever team turns up at the City ground, it should be a less stressful and winnable match, one agreeable to those who are faint-of-heart.
What About The Circus? Have You Forgotten They’re In Town?
It’s refreshing that the headlines so far have been Wenger’s rants about farcical match officials. Not to worry, the transfer madness stories will creep back in soon enough. Wilshere to sign for Marseille; Man City to make a bold £25 million January bid for Sanchez; Mourinho to snare Ozil away in his fight to dominate Manchester – take your pick. Just 26 more sleeps to the end of the circus.
What of Arsenal? Wenger has indeed threatened that the big names will be replaced with big names. There’s a bit of a Sir Humphrey feeling in Yes Prime Minister about Arsenal making any statements of bold transfer moves. In fairness, we have made a “big” January signing already. 20-year-old Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. Well, big is relative, right? In Greece, they’ll argue that the young man is big – one of their best and brightest prospects. He had only made 16 appearances in the Greek Super League before Arsenal started looking at him.
I don’t have a problem with the signing if the reports about Mavropanos are right. With Mertesacker retiring, and Koscielny and Monreal quickly approaching football’s equivalent of senior citizen status, long-term planning is essential. As holding and Chambers look to set their footing as long-term defenders, I suspect we will still eventually sign a more experienced defender to play alongside Mustafi.
Have a great weekend good people.