Hi all and welcome to Tuesday night,
I’ve drawn the straw of getting this latest blog to you after a weekend that began with as much hope and optimism as most of us could muster ahead of the opening game against Villa and ended at pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum.
I dont like to write negative blogs about the club we all love, and have done my darndest in this most trying of off seasons, to keep things upbeat and on the up. It would be foolish of me to try and sugar coat anything that we saw on Saturday, however, and I’m not going to to try.
Matty B and myself arrived at the local Arsenal stronghold after a day (or afternoon in my case) where we had steadily built up a level of nervous excitement normally attributed with opening day festivities and promptly began discussing our thoughts as to what we were expecting. While it was fair to say we were both ready to leave the nastiness of such a frustrating transfer window behind us for 90 mins, we were also quite wary of what it may mean for us to finish with anything less than 3 points.
The feeling amongst our fellow fans was similar. Shitting bricks, was the main theme.
After the opening forays and subsequent fine flowing move down the left which saw Giroud sweep home his first goal inside 7 minutes, there was a noticable outpouring of positive energy. A release, if you will, of some pent up emotion perhaps surpressed in the build up to the game. A feeling of belief swept over us all that, hey perhaps things aren’t so bad as what we were led to believe.
But then things started to turn, well, a bit ugly really. And we all know how it ended.
A 3-1 home loss, multiple injuries/knocks, a red card to one of our only fit centre halves and most devastatingly, no one to blame but ourselves.
There wasn’t so much anger as one may expect off the back of such a crushing first day of the season. Only quiet acceptance that reflected what many of us, including myself, must have been thinking… “Well, what did we expect?”
In a summer where much was promised (as we all know) and very little (sorry Yaya) has thusly been delivered, we found ourselves having to play Aaron Ramsey at centre half, Sagna on the left and a clearly leg weary and jaded Cazorla in midfield. While I don’t doubt that for the first 28 minutes of the game we clearly looked the better side, as soon as that first Villa goal was turned in, we looked like the team that struggled through patches of last season. Lacking a little bit sharpness and tactical stability, especially in the final third where Giroud was left to his own devices to little effect.
As i made the late night/early morning drive back down the highway to Geelong, I had time to reflect on everything that had led us to this point. We have money. We have a need for players. We miss out on players we bid for, or leave them at a point where negotiations grind to a halt leaving them pretty much dead in the water. We go into the season with a squad trimmed of the fat, but no stronger than the one that gave us a last gasp jump into 4th and expect to be able to challenge for the title. In fact with the number of senior players missing through injury, we go in weaker.
I thought of the league as a canoe race where all the managers in the league hoped into their canoes with their hands tied, but depending on their teams budgets they were able to afford tools which would allow them to free themselves of their restraints so they could paddle their vessels as best they could. I imagined Mourinho loading a circular saw into one end of his craft, a devilsh shit eating grin on his face. Pellegrini and Moyes both had band saw type arrangements (although Moyes’ still hadn’t worked out how to turn his on.) Wenger had been given a lovely electric carving knife and mobile power source. Most of the others had various sharp instruments which would have varying degrees of effectiveness. As the starters gun fired Pellegrini and Mourinho both activated their industrial sized cutting implements and immediately removed the bond tying their hands together and they paddled off. Moyes was still stuggling to read through the operating procedure since he was unfamiliar with working with such large, expensive equipment. Luckily for him RVP had jumped into the boat and begun rowing for him. Nearly all of the other managers hacked/chopped/sliced their way into their bindings and began to move off the line.
Wenger looked at his shiny new electric carving knife, showing it to the crowd as the current began to take him off course towards a looney tunes-esque fork in the river, one side overgrown with dark, gnarled trunks and sharp branches, jagged rocks poking their way menacingly out from between the ever rushing white water flowing into an unknown beyond. The other side sun and smooth sailing, rowers paddling away into the misty haze of a new morning.
Wenger tries to row back into his lane, hands tied only able to hold and flap one of the oars at any given time and starts to go around in a bit of a circle. Once, twice, three times he completes a full rotation only occassionally breaking from his paddling to pick at the knotted ropes with his teeth.
Suddenly Ivan Gazidis, raises a bull horn to his mouth as he stands abreast of a bicycle on the shoreline. “Arsene, I have given you the tools you need to be competitive, what are you doing?!”
As Arsene spins, floating ever closer to the precipice which will take him, his canoe and the shiny new carving knife down the comically evil split in the river he replies, “I don’t need this thing, look how I have already loosened the ropes using only my teeth!”
And that’s kind of how I saw it at 330am local time on Sunday morning. I’m not really sure if everything that had occurred in the previous hours had made me that little bit more insane, but when I woke later that day I felt like I could draw some sort of comfort that I was still able to make light of what is fast becoming an unbearable situation.
There have been reports circulating of a bid for Toon midfielder Yohan Cabaye and rumours that we are also in the running to bid for Pogba and Kondogbia, but at this stage (and not wanting to Jinx anything further) this is one Gooner who won’t believe it until he sees it.
The club now faces Armageddon in the CL qualifier on Thursday morning local time where we go in without the likes of Arteta, Vermaelen, Monreal, Oxlade Chamberlain and question marks on Rosicky, Ramsey, Gibbs and Sagna.
This is a club on the brink of turmoil and only decent results on the football pitch will suffice if the Manager wishes to assuage his starving followers. I dread to think what a loss in Turkey would bring about.
Until next time fellow Gooners,
PS: That canoe race was called off after Mourinho was flipped over by one of those small pods of River going dolphins, where he was minced into chum by the industrial sized circular saw and promptly eaten. (you know the ones that synchronize their attacks so that they wash up a bunch of small fish onto the banks and slide back down with a mouthfull of cold scaly dolphin food goodness?)