A fresh perspective
Let’s not get carried away, we beat a very under strength team. What is encouraging however is that we performed exactly how we would have expected to perform on paper. A solid 2-0 won would have made me worry.
We were awful against Brentford. There’s no argument from anyone there. I do however think that in all the fracas that has followed the defeat people have forgotten a few key issues:
1. We played away from home in front of a crowd. I don’t like playing 5 a side when the next team that booked the pitch are watching and waiting for their timeslot, let alone in front of a vociferous crowd for the first time in over a year. The players need to readjust, but the good news is that it won’t take long.
2. Having watched the game back I don’t think we were bullied. I think we were complacent. There is no greater primer for a loss in any game than the dreaded feeling of complacency. It happened to The Invincibles on a number of occasions. My Dad used to joke that we liked to make the game fairer by giving the other team a head start. The difference is that a team containing the likes of Vieira, Bergkamp and Henry could recover from a bad start. This current side cannot.
3. Illness/Injuries. Whilst I understand that our bench should be strong enough to challenge most teams in the League, you can’t have your game plan torn up just before a match and expect it to have no impact.
I would stress, I’m not making excuses here, I am merely trying to demonstrate that our issues are not insurmountable.
1. I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about Arsenal ‘capitulating’ against Chelsea. What a lot of fans are going to find is that losing 2-0 in the absence of more than half your starting XI is annoying but totally understandable. Here’s another thing fans have forgotten. They’re the European Champions. There’s a good reason for it too, they’re an excellent side, and plenty of teams are going to find that out the hard way over the course of the season. Also we didn’t ‘capitulate’ we were punished by two lapses in concentration. That’s what happens at this level.
2. Illness/Injuries, (again). There were plenty of people bemoaning Arteta’s lack of preparation in this area, however I would point out that it’s our turn now, but other teams will come unstuck for the same reason over the course of the season. At some stage City will have Grealish and Gundogan out after testing positive, at which point I guarantee the media narrative won’t be that Pep should have been ready for it, it’ll be that without two lynchpin midfielders even the best sides struggle.
3. Whilst we’re on the subject of the media, please don’t get caught up in the media pile on that we’re awful and we’re going to get relegated. At the moment everything we do is awful. Villa sign Buendia for £34 million and it’s great business. We sign Odegaard for £30 million and we’re mugs because he’s not worth it. Leno gets held in the build-up to a goal and he’s weak. I promise if that’d been Alisson it’s ruled out by VAR. Saka gets taken out by Reece James and VAR doesn’t intervene. If that’s Harry Kane it’s a stonewall penalty.
I’m not saying the outcomes would change (although teams get nervous in the last 10 when there’s only one goal in it) and I’m not saying we should be relying on referees to make the right decisions because we should be winning games without them. What I am saying is that a little perspective goes a long way.
Our chances of getting a result against City away are slim. They’re the champions, they may even have Kane in the XI next week and Pep will have seen our weaknesses. I think we’re capable of doing something, but at this stage what I’d most like to see is a performance that gives me hope for the rest of the season. (If we go there and smash them that would also do nicely). We’ll have Auba, Odegaard and hopefully Laca in the side, which makes us instantly better. We might miss Tierney but Tavares looks capable in his absence.
As I said before, the media have an anti-Arsenal agenda at the moment and it’s affecting us, which in turn affects our support both in and outside the Emirates. If we go to matches and we’re negative and booing, it’s going to filter to the players and affect them. If we’re watching at home whilst tweeting abuse directly to the players, it’ll affect them. Don’t listen to the pundits and don’t listen to fake fans who only want to shout abuse. Tweet positive messages to our team. Support them in the stands and they’ll reward us with performances. If you really are desperate to tell the world that you think Xhaka is rubbish then just don’t @ him. It’s not necessary.
The next home game is Norwich on the 11th. Let’s spend the next couple of weeks making sure the players know we support them. For those at the game, please make a lot of noise. I’ll be in block 11 supporting the team, see you there.
PS – I’ve come to the realisation that we’ve never won a game when I’ve worn my 2019/20 home shirt on match day. I’ll wear my 2006 away shirt, it always does the trick.
I’m a lifelong Arsenal fan. I got my first kit at 3 years old and my dad put a nail in my wall and hung it there rather than in my wardrobe. Mum was furious.