DB’s Season Diary Week One
So, here we are, on the opening day of a new season. Blimey, the last time I wrote those words were in the opening chapter of my new book – “Over Land and Sea (and Lockdown…. Arsenal – The Corona Diaries”.
I’ve mentioned my book, yeah? I must have, because I’m writing this on my phone, and that auto-fill thingy recognises the title now. Surprised the phone doesn’t automatically add the eye-rolling emoji as if to say, “Oh for crying out loud, will you give it a rest with that poxy book!”
Anyway, I digress….
Before I move onto our opening fixture of the 21/22 season – at newly promoted Brentford – another shameless plug for the book (completely relevant, I hasten to add); this is from the opening day of last season….
“So, it begins here. The Arsenal 20/21. We open the season with a lunchtime kick-off at newly promoted Fulham. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strange feeling to today. Even the TV companies are not bringing their usual fanfare and bluster to the proceedings. If ever there were a time to remind you that football without fans is nothing, it’s now. In a normal year, Twitter would no doubt have been awash with group selfies, including the standard pints and trays of Jagermeister by the river. With more than a few people having started drinking as soon as they got out of bed this morning. This has been cruelly taken away and replaced with despondent tweets about how Fulham away would be the perfect opening game if fans were allowed anywhere near it. It’s football, Geoff, but not as we know it….”
Today couldn’t be more different. The fans are back.
The socials are awash with train cans, pints and jägers. Even those that aren’t going to the game have more of a spring in their virtual step than this time last season. The prospect of watching a football match on TV without fake crowd noise makes all the difference. This is how football is supposed to be. Football is not a TV show.
The expectation and excitement that the opening day of the football season brings is truly unique. For a few hours, at least, any disillusionment with the club’s activity, or lack of it, in the transfer market can be put on the backburner. Unless you’re a complete weirdo, obviously. If you’re normal, however, this is the day that these weirdos shouldn’t even show up on your radar.
We’ve got our football back.
I would love to say, “we’ve got our Arsenal back”, but the truth is, I’m not even sure what that phrase means anymore. Although, having said that, maybe “our Arsenal” is whatever The Arsenal is at any given moment. For now, it seems Our Arsenal is one that brings with it a sense of hopeful expectation, followed by inevitable disappointment.
One thing is for sure, though, the Premier League is back…. AND IT’S LIVE!
(As a sidenote, I think Martin Tyler may have creamed himself a little bit when he exclaimed those words, but I’m willing to forgive him for that just this once.)
I have to say, even though I watched it at home, the pre-match atmosphere, with the teams walking out to a full stadium was rather spine-tingling.
Especially as opposed to last season….
“There has always been something spine tingling about watching your team come out onto the pitch in front of a packed stadium for the opening game of the season. Watching them come out in front of nobody still feels weird, and it’s quite a sad sight…”
(Yes, that’s from the book as well!)
There is one thing that’s troubling me, however. How excited will it take Jamie Carragher to become before the game has to be called off due to a waterlogged pitch?
Friday August 13, 2021
Brentford 2 Arsenal 0
That’s how long elapsed between seeing Mikel Arteta holding aloft the FA Cup, which gave me the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something, to watching him put a left back on at right back, for his premier league debut, while we were losing to a team playing their first top-flight game for 800 thousand years. That gave me quite the opposite feeling, to say the least.
Still, as the saying goes, 377 days is a long time in football.
I’m not sure exactly how things went so downhill in that time. It seemed we tried to concentrate on improving our defending but, in doing so, forgot how to, you know, create chances to kick the football into the other team’s goal.
It’s like that time, as a kid, I carefully took all the stickers off of my Rubik’s Cube and stuck them back on as if I’d completed it. Once I mixed it all back up again, it was actually impossible to even complete one side.
When news came filtering through during the afternoon that both Lacazette and Aubameyang were ill, I must say I was strangely more excited than disappointed. I wasn’t the only one, either. I guess that’s indicative of where we are at the moment. We all want something new, or at least something different. With Eddie Nketiah also being injured, there was the very real prospect of seeing either Balogun or Martinelli up top.
Of course, deep down we were all expecting to see Willian as a “false 9”, but there was hope at least.
When the lineup was announced, with both Balogun and Martinelli starting, and Willian not even on the bench as a “false footballer”, I was as excited as I was surprised.
That sense of hopeful expectation was, of course, followed by inevitable disappointment. Say what you want about this lot, but at least they’re consistent! I don’t see much point in rattling on about the game itself here. You’ve seen, you know. It’s been done to death. Not. Good. Enough.
I’ll use the space I would’ve used for a damning match report to give a little mention to Sky Sports instead.
I get the “newly promoted team wins first game in Premier League” stuff but listening to Jamie Carragher annoyed me almost as much as our awful performance. It was pathetic at times. Stick to flobbing at kids, you squeaky c**t.
Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter?
Tonight’s defeat seems to have been the last straw for many Arsenal fans as far as Arteta goes, and it’s becoming more and more impossible to defend the indefensible. In a way, the state of this club seems to prevent me from slating the manager too much myself, despite what I may be thinking. Did we not have enough of that during the whole Wenger Out / In nonsense? The football is embarrassing enough as it is. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve criticism – he’s the Arsenal manager, if he’s not producing the goods, he deserves criticism, it’s part of the job – but some of the pathetic, childish nonsense is just, well, it’s just that. Still, if that’s your bag, you crack on. It’s not for me.
Believe it or not, I liked Unai Emery in his early days, but by the end of his reign I was probably guilty of some of the behaviour that I’ve criticised others for. I feel especially guilty for that now that I see some the insults thrown Arteta’s way. I’m not saying there isn’t anyone that can come in and do a better job than the current manager, by the way. I’m just sick to the back teeth of life as an Arsenal fan being one ridiculous drama after another. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; it’s exhausting. Plus, some of the takes I’ve seen on Twitter are even worse than the football we’ve been churning out lately. I know everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but some are probably best left to your inside voice.
The problem is that this club is clearly a complete shambles from top to bottom right now, so is there anyone that can come in that at least some of us don’t end up hating?
So, with Mikel looking more and more as if he’s living on borrowed time, I got to thinking about suitable candidates to fill the role as the next Arsenal manager. For a start, it would be great if the next manager could be someone to unite the fans, bring us all together. I’m not sure this is even possible now, to be honest. That ship probably sailed once unrest among Arsenal fans over a manager was monetised. Then it occurred to me that perhaps we should just cut out the middleman and bring in someone we can all hate together! With all of that in mind, I started to draw up a shortlist for the next Arsenal manager. Someone that we can all really f*cking hate together. Naturally, Piers Morgan sprang to mind. Let’s be honest, if we are looking for a hate figure to unite Arsenal supporters, then that grassing little toad would be top of many a list.
The problem there, though, is that it will be difficult to tempt him away from bullying women and flirting with Gary Lineker and Kevin Pietersen on the internet for long enough to take the job.
The list of possible candidates, quite frankly, is endless. There’s not a pundit ex-player or journalist out there that at least one of us hasn’t wanted to murder at one point or another. I could sit listing them all day, but there’s every chance I’d end up launching my laptop out of the window before long. And I like my laptop.
Instead, I’ve come up with the managerial dream team that I believe should take over from Mikel Arteta, should his tenure come to an end anytime soon….
The Men That Can Save Arsenal
Danny Mills and Jamie O’Hara.
This pair of shockingly below-average ex-footballers (and I use that term extremely loosely) have always got plenty to say about The Arsenal, so why not give them a go? What a managerial dream team that would be! Just imagine losing to Spurs at home with those two at the helm. Rather than spend hours arguing with each other long into the night on the internet, over whether it’s the players or the manager that have let us down. We can take it out on them.
Final whistle goes, we all throw Pringles at O’Hara and chase Mills down to the corner flag and give him a Thierry Henry induced panic attack. We’d have forgotten what we had ever argued over in the first place. Job done.
Ødegaard, Put Me Out of My Misery
I’ve seen a few people mention the opening day defeat by Aston Villa back in 2013 in comparison to this game. I was at that game and remember how despondent I felt walking out of the ground.
A few weeks later, we’d beaten Tottenham, signed Mesut Ozil and were top of the league.
I know full well there’s precious little chance of us being top of the league in a few weeks’ time (or signing Ozil for that matter), but I’ve always been one to look for positives in any situation, and the signing of Martin Ødegaard for what, it has to be said, is an absolute steal can only be a positive.
Another positive as far as I’m concerned comes with the signing of Aaron Ramsdale. I’m not even talking about the signing itself, but the fact that thanks to a few faceless idiots, who think it’s clever to abuse a young player that hasn’t even put the shirt on yet, there are more people out there willing to give the lad a chance, at least. It’s always good to know who the good people are.
I also see TalkSport wheeling out anyone they can to have a dig at The Arsenal as a positive.
Gabby Agbonlahor and Trevor Sinclair were the latest washed up no-marks to join the party this week.
I’m not going to dignify their comments by repeating them here. It’s the kind of old codswallop we’ve had for years now, but the clickbait era we live in has made it even more ridiculous. Why is this a positive? Well, it’s the kind of thing that unites us in the same way that appointing the Mills / O’Hara managerial dream team would. At the end of the day, nobody takes you seriously when you’re a c*nt.
So, there we have it, quite an eventful week for The Arsenal. I’ve not even mentioned Lacazette and Aubameyang either! I’ll park that one and come to it when the time is right.
(*Edit* It turns out that Auba, Laca and Willian had all tested positive for COVID-19 – which was actually my original theory and something I tweeted the other day – but for some reason this wasn’t confirmed until last night and I’ll be f*cked if I was gonna rewrite the whole thing. Anyway, I wish them all well!)
A huge game against Chelsea on Sunday, not least because it’s the first in front of a full Emirates Stadium in way, way too long. There’s a very real possibility that the atmosphere could turn toxic should things not go our way.
On that note, I want to leave you with this….
Now that my book (oh shut up) is finally here, I’ve been reading it back again this week (someone has to!), and it’s incredible to think that we are lucky enough to stress over right backs coming on at left back, or football clubs spending money that isn’t ours on footballers that we don’t want after everything that has gone on since that say we watched Arsenal and Fulham walk out to an empty Craven Cottage last year. We’ve got our football back, but we’re also getting our lives back. If there’s anything that I’ve learned during that time, it’s not to get too stressed over football. That life we’ve just got back is way too short for that.
Try to remember that on Sunday.
Until next week.
Up The Arsenal.
Islington born and bred, Arsenal through and through. Supported the Gunners for all of my 46 years (so far!) through thick and thin.
Clickbait: Life as a Modern Football Fan – released 2019
Currently working on my next book – Over Land and Sea (and Lockdown), Arsenal 20/21 – A Diary of a Season – due for release Summer 2021.
I will back the club I have in my blood to the hilt and I don’t care what you think about that. UTA.
AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL.