Lowell Hornby is a loyal Arsenal supporter who will be attending every Gunners league game home and away this season - and will be writing about his experiences for the Gooner Fanzine online and in print.
Follow him on Twitter @weststandlowell
Here's his take on Arsenal's 5-0 defeat against Manchester City at the Etihad
I’ve picked a good season to do this, haven't I?
Shambles. Absolute shambles.
How can a club of this magnitude fall so far down the pecking order?
There has never been a larger gap between Arsenal and their ‘rivals’ (if you can even call teams like Manchester City rivals nowadays).
What is there to say about the immediate post match misery that I didn’t say after Chelsea?
This was a capitulation, though, and hurt a lot more than the, flattering, 2-0 defeat last week. You would’ve been excused for leaving after 15 minutes.
All I ask, all every Arsenal fan asks, is to delay - what now seems - the inevitable by longer than six minutes.
A performance for longer than six minutes, once, please. I can remember results as bad as this - 8-2 at Old Trafford, 6-0 at Stamford Bridge, 5-0 at Anfield. The centre backs of Kolasinac, Holding and Chambers felt similarly inept to the back four of Jenkinson, Djourou, Koschielny, Traore that started the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United.
Yet the difference with this hammering is that the ineptitude runs far deeper than just the players. The manager, the technical director, the owners - all, at this point in time, look completely incapable of turning the club around.
The trip wasn’t all bad. Despite a near on 12 hour round trip from Dorset to watch us get thumped, again, Manchester proved an enjoyable destination for an overnight stay.
Probably the greatest part of the trip was that, on arrival, we (me and my cousin Sam who kindly, and probably reluctantly agreed to drive us up to Manchester) walked a total of four minutes and had managed to get from the car park to the hotel; the hotel to a lovely Indian restaurant; the Indian restaurant to a casino, and the casino back to the hotel. The beauty of the North.
Turns out we’d also timed our trip to Manchester with Pride weekend too, which better explains the noisy and vibrant streets on Friday night - after the first day of the festival. Glitter scattered around, rainbow flags everywhere, and drunk, half naked people flooding into the hotel - always the sign of a fantastic city.
Three games into the season and already we seem to be past the point of misery and at a point where looking at the situation through more of a comedic, masochist eye is the only way to deal with it.
The view from the away end
The Arsenal fans jumping around singing the new (and very good) Saka and Smith Rowe chant after Manchester City’s fourth goal certainly seemed to think so too. The guy sitting in front of us even shouted “Cmon Lino give us a chance!” when Xhaka - in an offside position - had a shot saved by Ederson. That’s about where it’s at for us at the moment.
Although I doubt that paying the referees would buy us a victory, we really are just hopeless at football.
Three games, three defeats, zero scored, nine conceded. Before any of you start to blame me (which to be fair would really be kicking the cat but just incase…),
I’ve been going to home games for 13 years and we’ve won a few in that time - although I will take full responsibility for the away defeats given that we haven’t scored since I started attending…
A very drunk man in the Casino on Friday night enacted what I thought was quite a good metaphor… He was given a £2.50 chip at a table where you can only bet in multiples of £5 and, in anger, proceeded to chuck the chip behind him.
Later, when his money had run out, he decided that he may actually need this discarded £2.50 chip. If you think of this £2.50 chip as Granit Xhaka, and the very drunk man as Mikel Arteta, the drunken act explains quite perfectly his, and many other players’ situations at the club. Once discarded, a desperate man having exhausted all of his options once again turns to this ‘chip’ to fill a void left unfilled.
Things fall apart
This hole we’re in seems different, with no Arsenal fan under any illusion that things can go on like this. There is more unity amongst Arsenal fans now than I’ve ever seen, with many fans starting conversations with us on the way home with “That was useless” or “Did you just watch that shower too”. One fan at a service station on the way back from his holiday even congratulated us just for going - that’s how bad it is! Although I think our current situation was perfectly summed up by an elder City fan, who as he wandered by just said “You’re no good, are ya?”
Anticipation among Arsenal fans pre match at the ground seemed higher than it had at the last couple of games.
The 6-0 hammering of WBA in the week had cheered everyone up, and the return of Ødegaard accompanied with Aubameyang’s hattrick clearly had left spirits high.
Much like both the Chelsea and Brentford games, it was a game of two halves - but the first half ended after about five minutes.
Manchester City 5-0 Arsenal
The first two goals we conceded were just so comically Arsenal: the first a cross hung up to the back post resulting in Manchester City’s creative (ish) midfielder Gundogan out jumping Calum Chambers, whilst the second was a short free kick which was tapped in by Ferran Torres after a series of calamitous deflections and a dubious punch from Laporte on Chambers which saw him floored again.
The rest was abominable, capped off earlier than usual by some routine Granit Xhaka idiocy (greeted with groans from the away end as he lunged in) which saw him sent off.
At this point, it might save everyone more time if Xhaka started the game on a booking, yellow against a team in the bottom half and any team with more quality and pace, let’s just start with 10 men and get it over with. Arse.
I saw someone on Twitter say at HT “When the going gets tough, Xhaka’s head gets going” which, despite not actually making much sense, gets enough of the message across.
Fifteen minutes after the fourth went in - which some fans 'celebrated' [ironically], either as they were cheering the battering in the hope that it would end Arteta sooner, or just because we haven’t scored in the league and they wanted something to celebrate (either way, fair enough) - we headed for the exit doors.
Humiliated and embarrassed enough already, the faint cheers from the City fans of the 5th goal merely added to the painful comedy of it all.
The lowest possession figure Arsenal have had in a Premier League match since we have data (2003) is 31% v Liverpool in July 2020. Today, Arsenal had 18%. A pretty damning statistic to sum up what was another utterly hopeless display from Mikel Arteta’s men.
The pleasantness of the city was absolutely no consolation for that result or performance though. Below all the piss taking and humour of it all lies an impenetrably thick layer of anger, frustration and disappointment among Arsenal fans. As much as I joke, it is really hard to see Arsenal in this state. The club is rotten, bottom to top and today (if needed) was proof of that.
Where do we go from here?
The clock ticks for Mikel Arteta, with even the most positive Arsenal fans I know struggling to see the light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel.
I don’t think anyone can see what the process is anymore, and - as cheerful as the away end was given the result - the fans deserve better.
Amazingly, the international break is welcome.
Norwich and Burnley to come, anything less than six points and I think Arteta’s wobbling train will derail.
Learn more about Lowell in his own words.
My name is Lowell Hornby.
I’ve been a devout Gooner for all I can remember. I was taken to my first Arsenal game in 2007 and never looked back.
I’ve never really thought of football being in my life as a conscious choice, more of a genetic deficiency.
The relationship my Dad (who some of you may know: Nick Hornby, author of Fever Pitch) has developed with football inevitably has rubbed off on me.
It feels like it’s a lot more than results; it’s the club, the feeling, the fans, the friends - everything.
In my year off, after an unimaginably painful 18 months of fan-less football, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than follow my beloved Arsenal up and down the country as I attempt to go to every Premier League game this season.
The pieces I write will document not just the games, but my experiences, the cities, the journeys, the people.
I hope in doing so I can capture, express, articulate and transmit the visceral emotions of myself, fellow Gooners and football fans as a whole.
I live and breathe football, and I hope these pieces and my project this season can convey that in a way that’s enjoyable to experience vicariously.
If you’d like to be following me more casually, and be notified of any pieces of course, my Twitter handle is @weststandlowell and I’ll be tweeting over there. COYG.