Yes, you bounded out of bed, saw the dawn and thought, “What a beautiful day, a beau-u-u-u-tiful day!” Yeah? Here’s a newsflash; some of us don’t feel the same as we stumble through the morning until the second hit of caffeine jolts us from our slumber. Even the laptop needed caffeine; electricity didn’t work so it sat there glumly looking at me, eyeing the coffee lasciviously.
Ppfffft. You know, as much as we talk of Groundhog Day in terms if the performances, results snd injuries, the same holds true for the coming week. Two big games for differing reasons. Despite losing in Dortmund, a win in Brussels puts Arsenal within four points of the next round. Ten points in this group will be enough to continue the tradition of exiting the Champions League in the Round of Sixteen. Would that another four points lifted Arsenal into second place in the Premier League.
Three of them are presumed to be arriving after next Saturday’s visit to Sunderland. They’ve just conceded eight, they will be demoralised. Doesn’t work out that way very often. My first thought was Derby 1991; the similarity is uncanny. The week before two carbon copy Alan Smith goals sealed the points at The Baseball Ground, Derby had concede seven at home to Liverpool. The attitude was turning up would be enough, in much the same way Swansea probably thought Arsenal were ripe for the taking. Different circumstances of course. That 1991 side had consistency and form that the current squad can only dream of. Things are not set to improve rapidly either, David Ospina has succumbed to a thigh injury which means Damian Martinez will be between the sticks in Brussels; how costly was Wojciech Szczesny’s red card against Galatasaray? It would be little surprise to see Laurent Koscielny return to the starting line-up to offer more protection for Arsenal’s third-choice custodian. Or fourth if the unthinkable happens and Martinez should fall prey to injury.
As much as Arsenal are talked of as an attacking side – humorous really, given the spluttering nature of the performances – it is an attack that is built on defence. The counter-attacking style which suits the team, that the manager is so fond of, fails because opponents sit back. Arsène can complain about the likes of Hull defending deep but it’s nothing new, it’s been the case for the last decade or more. Where the situation has changed is that he hasn’t found a way round it, that tactically he lacks the guile he used to have. Either that or the players can’t interpret his views effectively. One or the other.
Wednesday is a big night for the club, one to emphasise that current woes are temporary. What message two defeats sends doesn’t bear thinking about. Certainly, it would call into question (even more) Sir Chips’ comment that the board keep quiet if Arsène doesn’t have a plan. It was, and will permanently remain, a staggering admission; a senior manager at an organisation is unchallenged beggars belief. Entirely unsurprising as well; it’s the Arsenal way to let Arsène get on with it. They let George Graham get on with it as well and you would have thought one of the lessons learned from that episode was to keep a watchful eye on the manager. Arsène has done nothing to rank alongside Graham’s dishonesty of course but it needn’t apply just to their honesty, but their performance as well. Still, the businessmen are all quite happy with fourth place; it brings the pennys in. Doesn’t offer any sort of progress at all, prevents anything but equilibrium.
In politics, we would no doubt be subjected to some sort of speech which clarified the chairman’s comments at the AGM. Entirely meaningless of course, and probably better if he kept quiet about it all. It’s the sort of gaff which will be remembered as summing up his reign, an abdication speech; abdication of responsibility, making sure the world knew that Arsène was in charge and no-one but Arsène should take the flak. Teflon. There’s an element of truth of course, Monsieur Wenger is the manager and footballing decisions rest on his shoulders.
Or it’s one of admission, one where the nail is finally hammered into the coffin of the board being custodians of the football club. It’s been coming for a while, we have known that reality for a number of years. To some, further evidence of that came with the death knell sounded for Fanshare. It s harsh to blame the club for the scheme failing and a shame that a cost model to make it work could not be found. Equally, a shame that the two major shareholders were unwilling to support a scheme that encouraged fan ownership and participation in the club. Never mind, Labour was quick off the mark and with an eye on the populist vote, took the opportunity to put forward proposals that will force the club into a rethink. A long way from the drawing board to reality in politics though.
Too often Fanshare was derided on the basis of personalities in the same way political judgements are often formed. The board too, drew criticism for not supporting the scheme but they took their lead from KSE. The board could have offered financial support but with the majority shareholder unwilling to assist the scheme from the share perspective, the decision was made for them. To me, in this instance, criticising the club lets KSE off the hook.
Anyway, a belated that’s it for today. ’til Tomorrow.