So, we’re back to fifth thanks to Chelsea collapse at Manchester City. The flags and bunting are out, street party booked in celebration of winning the fifth-placed trophy. It’s either that or we’ll be celebrating the use of the firing squad because if we finish sixth, we deserve it…
As is always the case, we reach for spurious comparisons when someone fares worse than ourselves, particularly close rivals. I found myself a little disappointed at the final whistle that City hadn’t run up seven, eight or more but they suffered the age-old footballing problem: four-up at half-time and the foot came off the gas completely. Still, 6 – 0 isn’t to sniffed at.
The result raises the prospect further of Sarri getting the royal order of the boot. The immediacy of Premier League football demands results, i.e. silverware, or the sack. It’s got to be the right silverware as well. None of this breaking yourself in with a League Cup or using it to keep the winning habit going. Nor the Europa League; that’s only good enough for Champions League entry.
Comparisons between Arsenal and Chelsea inevitably point to the club’s reaction to such a defeat. The presumption is the Blues will sack him, maybe not this week but if they are humiliated at Wembley after losing to United in the FA Cup? Let’s just say that packing his case might be a good idea.
Arsenal never let trivialities like thrashings bother them. 8 – 2, 6 – 1, 6 – 3, and any number of 5 – 1’s, not even if they came in the same season. It wasn’t the Arsenal Way nor do I think it is now. The board then was spineless and remains the same while Enos doesn’t care enough about Arsenal; he’ll only care if the bottom line suffers.
The Great Pretender
Is it a clamour for changing that attitude? There’s certainly a groundswell of thinking we should act in a similar way regarding the coach. Some want Unai Emery gone now – some didn’t want him in the first place – and there are even those who noticeably don’t like the man because he isn’t Arsene Wenger. When even the Frenchman’s ardent admirers are calling people out on it, take a good look at yourselves.
That isn’t a good reason to want him out nor, I’m going to say, is not wanting him in the first place. Unai Emery is the Arsenal gaffer for this season and unless there is good reason, next week as well.
We demand an improvement on the pitch and while it isn’t as pretty as peak Wengerball, neither was last season. As for tangible improvements, we’ve have already taken two more points away from home than we did in the whole of 2017-18. OK, so it was a low bar but nonetheless, we’ve done the business there. We’re on course to at least match the home results so it’s a step forward overall potentially.
In terms of Emery’s longevity, there will be an element of results-based assessment. However, as important to Arsenal is stability following the departure of Wenger. That, to the club, is vital. If you look at Liverpool’s fall from grace in the 90s, United post-Ferguson, stability isn’t an over-rated virtue. But you’ve got to get the appointment right and support the manager.
To be honest, Arsenal
Brave New World
There’s no point in us changing managers every season or two, we don’t have the finances to do so. To have that turnover of coaches, you must back them in the transfer windows. If you can’t do that, then at least have the common courtesy to show some loyalty. And in the board’s defence, they do.
OK, so it’s inertia on their part and an unwillingness to make a decision. But hey, it’s a positive new world we inhabit.
Elsewhere, everyone’s getting uppity about online abuse (rightly) and criticising players. The latter is nothing new and players have been hounded out of the club before, even those who came through the ranks. The difference between then and now is (a) the volume which is far more than before and (b) the instantaneous nature of social media.
The gamechanger in fan empowerment wasn’t Twitter, it was fanzines. Prior to that, discontent or ridicule fermented in small groups before spreading. Fanzines gave fans a voice and the readership for views to be aired. Social media is the Premier League’s equivalent and is a global phenomenon, much like the brand itself.
It isn’t right or proper behaviour by any standard and tells you everything about the individuals involved. You wouldn’t want to mix with them offline, that’s for certain.
But abuse and criticism shouldn’t be conflated. Criticism of a player is opinion and no matter the welter of season-long statistics produced as a defence, if he had a stinker on Saturday, he had a stinker. Playing in and out of position is more pertintent than 15 pre-assists (whatever they are), 5 assists and 1 goal.
Criticism of a player is debate, abuse is not. Recognise that difference when you make a point as well as when you defend someone.