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Sunday 25 November 2012

Get Up Off Of That Thang

According to a 'never let the truth get in the way of a good story' article in this weekend's FT, I am a "keen historian of the club", which is a laugh, considering my increasingly sieve-like memory prevents me from recalling who scored yesterday, never mind forty years ago...but then sadly we didn't score any goals yesterday!

While many might think I'm clutching at straws, searching for some positives, I really don't think things are quite as bad as many would have us believe. It's true that we have every right to expect more, but there are plenty of Premiership fans who are so starved of success that they think the winning of a corner sufficient cause to celebrate. What's more, for all the money spent at the likes of City & Chelsea, it's not as if they're enjoying much cheer at the moment.

But above all, it is in the genuine Gooner spirit of those such as Carl Jenkinson & Jack Wilshere and the 'no-holds barred' commitment of Laurent Koscienly that I derive most optimism because if this can be fostered, to the point where team spirit prevails over the complacent efforts of those who are merely going through the motions, that will do me.

No matter where we end up each season, all I really demand in return for the increasingly extortionate cost of following the Gunners nowadays, is the ability to feel that I'm watching a bunch of players whose desire to win football games is far more important to them than the mere accumulation of wealth.

Keep the faith


Still smothering with some nasty lurgy, I thought it best to stop at home on Saturday and watch the game on the box, instead of schlepping up to Villa Park on a cold, wet afternoon. That was until I received a call sometime after midday, from a couple of Egyptian Gooner pals, who’d come over for our midweek match against Marseille, but had decided to extend their stay, to take in the dubious delights of the country’s second city and who were looking for a last-minute lift up to Villa.

It might be nice to think that I changed my mind and decided to drive them up to the match as some sort of token contribution towards peace in the Middle East, but in truth, as a regular awayday traveller and having endured the torment of trips to Norwich and Old Trafford, one lives in dread of missing out on being there for that moment when the Gunners miraculously rediscover some form.

And so with a glance at the clock, it didn’t take much to persuade me to avoid this risk and that I still had plenty of time to jump in the car, pick my pals up and head on up the motorway in the pouring rain.

It transpires that I need not have worried about missing out, because if this Arsenal side is EVER going to blossom, it was always most unlikely to occur on a positively miserable afternoon at Villa Park, when the lamentably uninspiring performances of many of our players suggested they’d have also much preferred to have stopped at home with their feet up.

Little did I realize that the highlight of my outing would occur outside the ground, before the game, while we were waiting to pick up my mates’ tickets and we saw Carl Jenkinson’s dad collecting his tickets from the box office. I adore the fact that Jenkinson’s dad rocks up to a match to watch his son play, along with all the other Gooners, rather than demanding he be closeted with all the corporate leeches, amidst the sterile, but far more comfortable surroundings of hospitality.

With Paul Lambert having seemingly reinvigorated his Villa side from their early season incarnation as obvious relegation fodder, I expected an awkward encounter; especially in the sort of conditions that rarely encourage the best out of an Arsenal side that invariably seems to perform better with the sun on their backs, rather than in the cold and pissing rain.

Yet, in truth, after Ron Vlar, their talismanic captain, limped off early in the second half, Villa were there for the taking and I’m certain they would’ve succumbed to any one of a myriad of Premiership sides, who are currently capable of producing more attacking potency and intent than the Gunners.

Hence it wasn’t really that surprising when Wenger’s removal of Giroud resulted in brief clamour of “You don’t know what you’re doing” frustration from the travelling not-so-faithful. If I’m honest, I felt likewise when he’d previously sent Arshavin on, to replace Chamberlain for the last 13 minutes, as personally I don’t think the disaffected Russian should be anywhere near the first XI, infecting our squad with his lack of motivation. But when Coquelin replaced Giroud for the last few minutes, it felt as if we were settling for a point, when we should be throwing the kitchen sink, at a last minute effort to grab all three.

There can be no doubt about the growing mood of Gooner discontent, manifesting itself in the occasional “We want our Arsenal back” outburst on the terraces. Arsène’s substitutions on Saturday are perhaps indicative of the sort of pragmatic, businesslike philosophy that’s responsible for this unrest. It was a safety first approach, where perhaps moving the fresh-legs of Gervinho to the middle, we might possibly pinch a goal, but at the same time Coquelin would ensure we didn’t sacrifice the prospect of a draw.

Yet we wanted to witness a gung-ho assault on the goal of weaker opposition because Arsenal fans have patently had their fill of this “settle for what we have” approach to football. Arsène can point to his esteemed track record, as testament to the fact that his management has ensured that the Gunners have won more games than we’ve lost, but our current squad look as if they are going to find it harder than ever to achieve the 4th place qualification for the Champions League next season.

Moreover, if merely maintaining the status quo is the be all and end all of modern football and as fans we are denied the ability to dream of silverware glory, there really will be no incentive for me to get up off my arse on a Saturday.

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Anonymous said...

He was spot on with subs and with resting Wilshere.
Ground was dead on his legs and Arshavin's cross was an inch from a Gervinho tap-in - more threat than anything Giroud or The Ox did for 80mins.

Arsene knows best? He knows more than us!

Anonymous said...

Yeah Arsene know better then Previous comment no question. But subs were a mistake yesterday - always easy to say in hind sight - last season a sub won it for us at Villa park, wasn't the case this year.

However has been a long time since we had such positive fighters in the team like Scz, Kos, Per, Jack, Carl, Poldi, Giroud, Mikel > they more often then not give 100% which is a pleasure to see.

Just gotta get consistency and points on the board. No one is more disappointing then Wenger guarantied. Like the blog - all the best with the Lurgey.. Bring on Everton