The reverse against West Ham has dropped a noxious negative bomb on Gooners everywhere – and justifiably so.
Fans rode on a magical carpet ride of dreams during pre-season. The ‘competitions’ played in Asia and at our own ground saw us face off against decent opposition and put them all to the sword. Then came the overwhelming win in the Community Shield.
We all took varying levels of confidence from these results. Some thought that new signing Petr Cech was the conductor we needed for our backline and his mere presence was enough to manufacture a shared mental tie between our defenders, a telepathy of sorts inspired by the Czech goalkeeping titan.
Others were more realistic. They saw the results as nothing but positive but realised the pace of the matches were markedly slower than the frenetic speed which the Premier League plays at. Petr Cech coming in was another positive, but more may still be needed.
The Gooner fanbase is one of the largest in the world, so fractured opinion is natural. What we could all agree on is that we appeared closer than ever to reclaiming a first league title since ‘The Invincibles’.
Now we must put away the tickertape and party decorations, because our season is over.
That is if you are of the more dramatic persuasion.
A hefty amount of Gooners have declared shenanigans on our season and our manager after the insipid display our team put on at The Emirates in the weekend in the 2-0 loss Vs West Ham. Many other reasons – much like sticks added to an already roaring bonfire – have been added as other reasons for 2015/16 already being written off as another Top 4 goose chase.
The magic carpet ride has stopped suddenly and tipped everyone off the edge.
What doesn’t help is rival fans using the extreme videos from Arsenal FanTV as comedy slideshows – Arsenal fans in a complete meltdown after an embarrassing loss. The colourful and madcap reactions of Claude, Ty and others are held aloft by Chelsea, tottenham and United fans as examples of our ridiculous fickle nature and used as evidence in their claims of our laughable club stature. Look at their fans, absolutely preposterous reactions, typical Gooners etc.
We also use the same vines and tweets as evidence of the portion of fans that often provide the contrast to the majority of sensible fans. The infighting between Gooners – originating during the dark years of the trophy drought – becomes all the more raucous after the fallout from a loss. After the 2-0 result, twitter, facebook and any other avenue fans could appropriate was used to vent spleens and air opinions as to why this game panned out as it did. The differing opinions acted as an errant cigarette butt in a scorched field in California. The wildfire consumed all and only a convincing run can soothe the burns that have been left behind.
The blame game is completely futile in most cases and is akin to food shopping when you are hungry – you are liable to make errors you will regret later. No player covered themselves in any sort of glory on the pitch, but to single out a handful is pointless. Yes, Giroud was blunt in the attack and his penchant for wandering out wide is infuriating. Yes, Cech chose his full debut to have one of his worst games in the last few years. Yes, Debuchy looked like a spot of WD40 wouldn’t go amiss. Yes, Ozil couldn’t find the answer to a defence which was predicted to struggle throughout the season.
These players though, were on a level footing to the favourites of our squad.
The Ox was full of running, but so is Mo Farah. His final ball and his decision making have always been his weakness and if he doesn’t fine-tune them this season then he won’t warrant a first-team slot. He is a trier and we love him for it, but we play a possession game. If it is easier to pass, do that rather than attempt to slalom past three players.
Santi Cazorla is often the catalyst to our best attacking moves, but he was easily thwarted. Too easily.
Aaron Ramsey was brimming with endeavour, but it was another performance that fell well short of the high standards he set himself.
The WHOLE TEAM didn’t show up. Our already under fire manager summed it up far better than I can do when he simply said – ” We weren’t good enough”.
Fans also turned to Wenger’s claims that we played like we were under pressure. Of course they were under pressure, but it is the same pressure that every home game brings. Over fifty thousand expectant Gooners awaiting the net rippling after the team composes a move that Beethoven would be proud to conceive. The very same pressure that they seem to cope with normally.
If we all played the blame game, then Wenger should shoulder the burden – and no doubt he will as he always does. We played as if there was no sense of urgency, which seems to be the recurring reason that crops up with every defeat.
The real problem though, is that whilst Arsene is at fault – thanks to ample time to prepare yet still weren’t match sharp apparently – the blame shouldn’t be so heavy that it means wholesale changes are needed.
When Petr Cech signed, even the most diehard of cynics were swaying toward the opinion that Arsenal now had the squad to go toe-to-toe with Chelsea. When we defeated Chelsea in the Community Shield – the trophy mattered little, but both teams wanted to win – this appeared to laminate the belief that finally, the Gunners can go on and leave an indelible mark on the Premier League trophy. Arsene had finally ended the hoodoo Mourinho held over him and after two F.A Cups in two years, it seemed that Wenger had rid himself of the supposed mental fugue he had suffered for so long. He was the right man for the job.
After one game however, that has all changed? Much like the bookies installing Manchester City as new title favourites after one routine victory over West Brom, haste isn’t always the best solution.
We should scrutinise why we lost. We should look for answers. We shouldn’t though, lose all faith. The optimism levels of pre-season left us all with such heady aspirations that when reality came to introduce itself, the comedown was brutal. It isn’t the end though, far from it.
New players aren’t always the right answer either. Of course everyone realises that extra cover for Francis Coquelin would be desirable for a gruelling campaign, but if we went past the transfer window with nary a glance at available players, could we still cope? With a bit of luck, yes, but should Wenger rely on luck? No, but the alternative is buying a player that would play sporadically and never generate a rhythm. They may perhaps even upset the cohesion in the squad which at this moment in time is rather good.
Benzema? Silva from Real? Gotze, Reus? Draxler? Would any have changed the result on Sunday? No. It was a collective fail. The lack of incisive passing was clear for all to see.
We criticise the journalists for reacting to Arsenal defeats with death knells to our season. The ‘Broken Cannon’ images are surely not far away and the media are rubbing their hands furiously at the thought of luring furious Gooners to their websites with lurid headlines. Yet a lot of us are reacting in the same way. Hold your fire.
Let us not forget the optimism that we all shared just five minutes before the kick-off to the game against the Hammers. It was for good reason. If we are to judge harshly and deem the season yet another bust in terms of a title tilt – then we should do it only when it is clear that we will not be up to scratch.
One awful game does not make a season. It doesn’t constitute title-winning form either, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s hold fire on those touchscreens, keyboards and buttons for a few games. The milk hasn’t gone stale yet.