I have this game I play in my head. Every time we face a penalty, I go into squeaky bum mode, willing Petr Cech to save his first penalty for Arsenal. The missus snorts and remarks “I’ve always told you he’s a plant”.
That’s typical from a Chelsea fan. We have a bet; if the opposition scores, I buy her a bottle of wine. If Cech saves, she buys me a 6-pack. Let’s just say my debit card earns frequent flier miles at the local off-licence.
I’m getting used to the inevitability of the situation. The same feeling I got when Michael Oliver pointed at the spot on Sunday, unleashing a yellow card on Monreal for good measure. It’s the same feeling I get every November as the inevitability of our season plays out in front of us. Last year it was a two-game fixture against Man City and Everton.
This season, it might turn out to be Man City and them lot up the Seven Sisters Road. You can hear the resident demons in your head shouting down your better angels; “Could have, should have, would have”. If only Laurent Koscielny was quick enough to block that shot. What if that penalty wasn’t awarded like many similar ones? If only the lino raised his flag for the offside that could be spotted from Holloway Road. If wishes were horses. I suspect, we’d all have a ranch.
If You Don’t Do Strategy, Strategy Will Do You
Away from the parallel universe of the Arsenal board room, I like many fans around the world continue to wonder what it is we’re doing here. Our Ivan is convinced that we’re over performing, but even a blind man can tell you there’s no design to the club’s strategy. Ours has been an excellent execution of strategy by accident. Player management, game management, succession planning, transfer policy – take your pick. There seems to be an acceptance of “we’ll be fine if we can get away with the bare minimum”. The natives may be restless, but they won’t bring the house down sort of thing.
Take last Sunday’s game. Even if we accept the injuries we had, it’s still baffling why Lacazette and Elneny didn’t start that game if Wenger chose to play that system. Surely, both would have had a positive impact in attack and defence. The situation we found ourselves in also made the sale of Gabriel even more bizarre. More baffling decisions are yet to come – the renewal or not of Wenger’s contract being a case in point. That’s before we even start thinking of how the replacements for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be brought in. Sometimes it feels like the folks managing our transfer policy would struggle fighting their way out of a paper bag.
The Calm Before The Arsenal Is In Crisis Storm
United’s loss to Chelsea provided a bit of relief from the “Arsenal is in crisis” news cycle that would have been milked throughout the international break. As far as relief goes, them lot from the other side of the rail tracks are coming to town next weekend. Believe me when I say how painful it is to admit that Tottenham have been playing much better than us and seem to have a more solid game plan than Arsenal does. That we haven’t beaten them at home for 4 years now is a head scratcher. They’re in fine form and Harry Caine seems to be scoring goals for fun.
No matter, it’s another opportunity for Arsenal to show the power of recovery. Some call it a test of character. Regardless, this is one game that won’t need any team talk. More than the 3 points is at stake here, not least the bragging rights. It’s also a game that we must return to the Alexis-Ozil-Lacazette triumvirate and stop the experimentation on reality TV. A negative result will accelerate Arsenal towards what seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of another washed out season. The 4th place trophy will still be up for grabs, but with 4 clubs having a shout for 2 spots in the top 4, we must accept that even this will be a dog fight to the end.
Use The Back Door, Use The Chimney, But Get Into The House
I subscribe to the “If you’re in it, then bloody get on with it” school of thought. We’re past pondering how or why we got into the Europa League. We are the current favourites, and will still be odds on to win the competition once the Champions League rejects are sent back our way. I’m struggling to see how any of the remaining games, including the round of 32 will be any more dire than the last match against Red Star. Winning the Europa League seems to be the most practical route for us to get back into the Champions league. Arsenal should grab the opportunity with both hands and stop staring this gift horse in the mouth.
We have no right to win any competition. We won’t win the Europa League though, if we don’t apply ourselves to it, especially from the next round onwards. As far as trophies go, the business end of the league cup is here. A win against West ham will earn Arsenal a semi-final against one of the big 4. I don’t see any of them rolling out their kids, and we shouldn’t do it because Wenger has little or no interest in the league cup. Refusing to change your squad and tactics 3 games to a trophy would be very Arsenal.
The two cup competitions will be back with us soon enough. There’s just that small matter of a North London derby. Don’t you long for those good old days when we used to win 5-2 for fun?
This is the point I make a request for Dad’s Juke Box – “Bring back them good old days” by Kenny Edmonds (Babyface). Over to you, DJ YW.