We are the Arsenal!
That is the context in which we play and watch football. Danny Baker one of the so called ‘voice of the fans’ type pundits that emerged when football became fashionable in the 90s once unfavourably compared Arsenal fans to his own - Millwall fans. We were spoiled moaners that lacked humour whereas the denizens of the Den supported their team unfailingly and chuckled along with any misfortune. Apart from being plain wrong, decades of The Gooner shows we find humour in almost all aspects of our club. What makes Baker’s judgment really worthless though is the lack of context. We have an expectation of success – Millwall do not.
We are the Arsenal! We are simply not going to wildly celebrate a late equalizer against Southampton.
Our history is one of a club that competes at home and abroad. We challenge for trophies, we even win trophies sometimes. Our expectations are legitimate. This season? Now that’s another story entirely. It’s flat. And the crowd is.
To understand how bad this season has been we need to remember recent history. Post 2006 the Wenger years weren’t great. However, we competed for a title in 2008 (the Eduardo year); we won cups taking some decent scalps along the way.
This current mess has been coming though. The Baku catastrophe was predictable - decent opposition, we lose badly. But, we did compete well last season against some top sides.
This season is very different. The players know it and the fans know it.
It’s not that we won’t win anything – any fool knows that, barring a fluke. It’s that we don’t compete in games. And it’s getting worse not better. Forget performing against any decent side - just expect a heavy defeat. We don’t compete against Wolves, Burnley, Palace for goodness sake. Southampton should have embarrassed us not just in performance but in the score line too.
These are sides that in the later Wenger years we used to dominate. Yes the result often was a ridiculous defeat or silly draw sometimes, but we outplayed them virtually always.
Not anymore. You don’t need to be a stats man to know that shots pepper our goal week after week home and away no matter who we play.
This is our worst defence in over 40 years. Trust me, I’m that old. Stepanovs bad, Cygan awful, Senderos well, ponderous? Try Jeff Blockley or Ian Ure - we have had some shockers!
This current lot as a collective are the worst I’ve seen. Who actually sat in the meeting that decided David Luiz was the man to stabilize a dodgy defence. Can’t somebody show Calum Chambers the way to Twickenham – yes Calum you will be allowed to use your arms to tackle there. Oh and Sokratis you aren’t Beckenbauer. No, no really you aren’t!
Let’s not start on the manager. Clearly the job is too big for him. He has to go and surely in time for changes to the playing personnel in January.
Given all this is it really surprising that after (yet another) abject display against (fellow….arrgghh!) relegation strugglers where we squeeze out a wholly undeserved draw that the crowd is flat… even when we romp to a 2- 2 draw with a 96th minute equalizer!
Why would the crowd ignite? The reaction is a sign of dejection and maybe resignation. But it’s also because they know that - We are the Arsenal! And this just isn’t good enough.
The players are no different. They know who we are, and what we are. To celebrate that goal, against that opposition, after that performance, would have been embarrassing for them as much as for us.
The lack of celebration of the goal offers some hope. The players still have standards too. We know the fans do.
It’s over to the powers that be now….