Tried to fry an egg
Broke the yolk, no joke
Something’s gone wrong again
Look at my watch, just to tell the time
But the hand’s come off mine
Something’s gone wrong again
This isn’t something new. Arsenal kicked off last season with three disastrous red cards (though Jenkinson’s sending off in the 8-2 defeat to Man U could be seen as a mercy slaying) and followed that up with two own goals against Blackburn to start the season off with just one win, one draw, three losses, 6 goals for and 14 goals against. All 14 of those goals didn’t come from individual player errors but enough of them did that two of the first three losses were easily down to errors (Ramsey o.g. v Liverpool and the two o.g. against Blackburn by Song and Koscielny).
And last night, Bacary Sagna was playing a fine game, winning every header, putting in a real shift on his side of the pitch both offensively and defensively, and Arsenal were up 1-0 against the League champs thanks to a Theo Walcott goal; when out of the blue Sagna makes a soft back pass, Robin latches on to it, and in his haste to win the ball back, Sagna fells Robin in the penalty area.
Szczesny did his now customary thing where he jukes one way and goes the other but Robin’s penalty was taken with power and easily beat the Pole. Van Persie then pretended not to celebrate but given some of the spicy challenges earlier in the game (he was yellow carded for what could have been red for a foul on Mertesacker) and the small fact that he took the penalty I’m guessing that he took the little boy inside him out for ice-cream after the game.
Arsenal have been making these kinds of errors all season and while I know it’s fashionable to complain about corners and goals conceded from set pieces its really been the 14 errors leading to goals that have cost Arsenal this season. By my count, Arsenal have dropped 23 points from their matches this season because of 12 of those 14 errors. Arsenal are currently 21 points off the League leaders.
And the most frustrating part about these errors is that overall, Arsenal’s defense is better than last season. We aren’t leaking goals the way we were before with the corners and set plays killing us. Instead, we are making bone-headed errors and that’s killing us. 6 of one I hear you say but it’s really not. Arsenal have only allowed 36 goals so far this season and let in 49 last.
Then later, Sagna was very lucky to escape Phil Dowd’s red wrath when he made an ill-advised slide tackle which saw the referee play “advantage” and after play was finally whistled dead, hand out a stern warning to the Frenchman instead of a second yellow. The United players were trying to help out their fellow professional as well; first Rooney, then Rio (both English you might note) went over to the referee and clearly said to Phil Dowd that Sagna’s slide was a “second yellow”. Of course, since there was no “waving an imaginary yellow card” they were just having a word with the ref and the announcers were glowing in praise for their team effort.
But regardless the hypocrisy of the pundits, It’s hard to admit this but Sagna looks spent. I was one of the few who wanted him to be captain this summer instead of Vermaelen. I always felt like he was Arsenal’s most consistent performer: he’s consistently been at the top or near the top in aerial duels won, he’s been a consistent outlet for Szczesny’s errant long kicks, he’s been a tireless worker, and when he was out last season, Arsenal’s midfield fell apart due to the lack of width he provides. And one of the main reasons why Jenkinson can’t get a look in is because he links up so well with Theo Walcott while Jenkinson and Theo seem to get on like fire and ice.
Two leg breaks, 30 years old, and working very hard for six seasons in a physically demanding Arsenal team may have finally worn Sagna down. Still, I’m not ready to ditch him after one poor season. Let’s not forget that part of the problem with this Arsenal team over the last 8 years is that we keep letting older players go. There needs to be some experience in this Arsenal side and unless he demands some huge salary or a trade I say we try to keep him in the fold for a few more years. If for no other reason than the fact that he’s very strong, wins a lot of aerial duels, and he can fill in at center back.
Meanwhile up front Lukas Podolski looked plum unfit. He looks like he has less pace than molasses in January, he won exactly 0 of the long balls that came to him and generally really struggled to get into this game. Still, I think both he and Theo Walcott need to seize this opportunity now that Giroud is out for two more games and give Arsenal some options up front as a unit.
And they will get chances from this Arsenal team, if — IF — they work as hard as they did yesterday. That’s my takeaway from the game really. Arsenal worked so very hard in midfield, mostly it was the effort of Ramsey pushing forward and Arteta covering back which provided the platform for the Arsenal performance. Rosicky and Cazorla led Arsenal with 5 shots each and had either been even slightly more on point (how one footed is Rosicky?) would have scored a goal.
All that hard work was a joy to watch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it’s not fair but in the Premier League, referees reward players who work hard, close space, and kick first and punish players who kick back. Arsenal played on the line of foul play for the first 43 minutes of that game yesterday and it nearly paid big dividends. You kick early like that and the opposition will pick up yellow cards, in fact United had four yellow cards after Arsenal scored and that’s just how Premier League officials are: they reward the aggressive team and punish the retaliatory team.
I’m not suggesting that Arsenal need to become Stoke City and go around Shawcrossing people or pulling defenders down in the box but that pressing game they played yesterday is exactly the kind of tactic that I believe will pay off in the Premier League. Work hard, leave everything on the field, and finish these last three games of this season on a high. Then, come what may, finish where we finish, we can be proud of this team and the way they turned the season around.
Arsenal now have to face a relegated QPR, relegation threatened Wigan (whom we can all but relegate that day), and a relegation threatened Newcastle who are owners of the worst defensive record in the League. Chelsea have to play Man U, Tottenham, and Everton and Tottenham have Chelsea. I don’t think Arsenal can just show up and get three points against any of those teams, they aren’t going to do us any favors, and I don’t expect Tottenham to rest on their laurels or for Chelsea to give up on fourth place in pursuit of Europa League glory.
So, Arsenal have to win all three games and rather than thinking we can just turn up and get three points we need to get stuck in in every game and give maximum effort for the remaining 270 minutes of the season.
It’s been a while since I’ve written here, almost the whole season in fact. I’d like to quickly apologise to anyone that does like my piffle and offer special thanks to Tim the Enchanter himself for putting up with my many promises to write which have too often evaporated faster than the concept of fair play in a FIFA meeting. It’s been a tough year for me at work…the painful truth is that after 14 years of doing what I do, 8 of which as a co-owner of the business, it looks like the game will finally be up in the summer as the business climate is gloomier then a Gooner during the transfer window and as irrevocable as RvP’s reputation. It’s been distracting to say the least but it’s really only half the truth.
The other half of my self-induced writing coma actually came as a surprise. It’s taken me a while to get it straight in my mind and in fact it only really coalesced in my mind on Monday. What compelled me to write again after such a long hiatus I hear you furiously type? Well as I’m writing this the Manc’s have just claimed their 20th title with the media dropping volumes of literary spoof all over ManUre’s team, that Dutch prick and of course Fergie for taking advantage of the Skunk’s treachery and buying the 30 goals that he lacked last season like he’s some sort of tactical genius that didn’t just buy the best player in the league. In reading and viewing all this Grade A typical ManUre cockmongery I have asked myself; how do I feel about all this? The sad answer is; that in until Monday I didn’t feel much… this season was pretty much over for me the moment HE put on a gingham tablecloth and basically did for them exactly what he should have been doing for US this season. Instead I was reminded how cold football has become. Again, a player that claimed to love the Cannon on his chest, a fan since he was an ACTUAL little boy, someone who has posed for a picture with “No 1 Fan” on a jersey with images of his yearning to play for us since his youth… someone who I thought was one of us was in fact not. He’d had a disagreement with the ‘direction the club was going in’ and held us over a barrel just like so many others have in the last 5 years.
Say what you like about him having the talent deserving of trophies. Fuck that. Personally I think he deserves a hefty kick in the nether regions every weekend for at least 6.5 seasons. He’s lower in my mind’s eye then Ibra – because at least Ibra’s honest… he’s always been a mercenary. Say what you like about him picking ManUre over Citeh for ‘Footballing’ reasons or that he could have ‘gone for the cash’ at Citeh I personally think Fergie offered him the kind of reach around that Mancini’s ego never would allow and as his options thinned out; no Farca, Real’s teabagging of Ronaldo, Juve were too poor, PSG already had Zlatan and Citeh for the first time since hitting black gold trying to control a wage bill that reads more like the US trade deficit. The canny predator that is SAF saw an opportunity, saw what RvP was, and was willing to spend an insane amount of money for a player that had 1.5 good seasons in 8 and who at 29 only had a few years left at the top. RvP knew this, we knew this – hell even Citeh knew it… old red nose took a small gamble on his ability to remain fit and it paid off.
After it was announced it was like someone had torn out my heart and replaced it with a series seven sports heart from Jensen* after which I began a season long intravenous novocaine drip – I’ve watched every match this season in a half stupor… every time I saw that grinning toe rag on the TV I’d just switch it off and do something else with only mild mumblings. In my heart, I truly believe that it would have been us competing or winning the title in this run in if we’d have managed to re-sign him. I don’t fall into the ‘keep him and let him go for free’ camp because players more often than not only play like that when they’re happy, I say this in the full knowledge that I’m going to get an explosion of “You don’t know what you’re talking about” in the comments below about how the whole team is shit, Wenger is a nincompoop and the entire Board are nothing but money hoarding trolls sitting on a huge pile of cash like Smaug atop his treasure.** You’re all welcome to your opinions, but as I see it if he’d have not said what he said on his website we’d have at least had some stability. Song, being about as bright as a beige painted kitchen, most likely would not have agitated and the team we had last year PLUS iPod, Giroud & Cazorla not to mention fit again Wilshere/Rosicky/Rambo it would have been a seriously interesting team to watch play.
Sure; say what you like about the HFB/iPod being bought to replace RvP, I personally don’t buy that… the deals were done too early in a very ‘un-Arsenal’ fashion in my opinion to deal with what I suspect is RvP’s whinging about lack of superstars…regardless of if you agree with me or not, the fact is that unless you have a spy cam inside the Board room or direct access to the inner workings of Wenger’s bonce I suggest we’ll never know for sure. In addition of course, it’s all moot. He had his ‘meeting’ after which, either he or his agent, posted a message crafted for one purpose only: To burn his bridges with us.
Essentially it was a very public Craigslist post; “Striker for sale; 2 careful owners, has been involved in accidents but refurbished to ‘better then new’ cond, good runner, great for weekend twists & turns, happy to sell personal legacy, make myself/wife/father look like idiots in exchange for guarantee of silverware and a truckload of cash.”
After that our position was untenable. Arsenal, ever the ‘fiscally sensible’ club took the 24 mill, Song instantly thought he was Cesc reincarnate and flashed his tits to other clubs and the rest is sad history. Another summer fucked by players that we’ve shown unwavering loyalty to and which left us rebuilding for the fifth summer in a row. I don’t know why this one hurt more than others personally speaking. I’m a reasonably smart man, I know that if you drop large cash on a new house it means the far flung vacations and new shiny toys must be limited…and by and large I applaud the way the club has handled things since the switch to the Emirates. Think about it, we did not do this like ANY other club! No government support like in Spain, no legislation or fan ownership like in Germany. No stand by stand like the Red/Black half of London/Manchester. No free handouts like Shitty. No council knee trembler like Wet Hams are about to get. We raised the capital and built the Emirates, from scratch all by OURSELVES, on the backs of; supporters, player sales, savvy land management and sheer force of will.
So why did this summer hurt more than others? Perhaps because of the statements he’d made when others had left? Maybe… I never bought into the Cesc worship…a great player yes, but he was always headed back, we were always his stepfather and he wanted to hang with his real daddy regardless of the fact that his real daddy only really gave a toss when we made him the man he is. Flamoney/Hleb/Adeybayor/Song/Na$ri/Clichy were all transparently in it for the dosh to these eyes, they never carried the Cannon. Even Toure to a certain respect, although he’s been far more becoming in my eyes and I’m sure Gooner history will be much kinder to him.
I think my issues is that I took it personally, because for the first time since Henry had left I thought a player genuinely loved the club like we do. I’d abandoned my simple “Grimbo” and player number on my jersey and, while still refusing to put a full player name/number on my back (not since Henry…I just can’t), I at least paid homage to the Dutchman with ‘v. Grimbo 10’. I loved van Persie…I’d always argued his corner despite the numerous seasons where fate fucked RvP’s ankles, knees et-al and by extension each successive season we didn’t replace him with a like for like. I’d always thought; finally a player that Wenger had gambled on when almost everyone else would have cut their losses and run. A player that was obviously world class, someone who could live up to legacy left to us by TH14 & DB10. That we finally had a player who understood, who looked at the Cannon and said ‘home’ who would repay our faith with glory…complete his fairytale return to form with Silverware in our dusty cabinet. To be the first real hero of the Emirates!
This I believed like godly people believe in their respective deities… right up to the moment I read the statement on his website and the realisation dawned on me, he didn’t believe. I did that Warner Bros cartoon thing where the character gets stitched up and turns into a Jackass when he realises he’s been had. Not only was he a liar and a mercenary of the worst sort, not only had he decided to shun us but also to fuck us all in the most painful manner possible, by going to an old enemy and guaranteeing them a title that I thought was ours by right… To claim that they suffered last season in comparison to our 8 years? Bollocks… oh sure our Cock/Ball neighbours have a FAR worse history in that regard but I don’t care about them one jot.
On that day my obsession not just with Arsenal, but with football full stop took one look at the situation, said ‘Fuck this’ and went for a walkabout somewhere deep in my subconscious. Look as I might for my Angry Green Man whenever I tried to write again the passion wasn’t there. I didn’t believe in what I was saying… I knew we couldn’t compete this season that all the boo-boys were right and we were just going to fight for 4th again…knowing you’re fucked before you even start is about as much fun as taking it up the poop chute with a hedgehog tipped dildo. T’was the day my romance with great players that kiss the badge, that believe in a dream, that love one club over all others was gone and with it a lot of my passion to write… I had dared to believe that he could live up to the shirt number he’d lusted over. I was wrong. When life takes your beliefs and jets runny poo all over them it takes a while to recover…the well of passion I needed to write these epic opus’ was dryer then Death Valley. Then like a switch after I saw that grinning cuntbag, read the line “I’ve waited for so long for a Premier League title” something happened.
The rage came back…
While I knew, like many of you, that this was coming all year the shock of seeing it actually happen snapped me out of my coma like a cold February slap across the thighs in PE… On Monday as it all sank in it was like a scene from “Kill Bill” and as I sit & write this in my mind’s eye I’m in the Pussywagon saying to myself “wiggle your big toe.”*** In short I think this season may well be looked upon as a moment when the club got a big slap across the face and woke up bit. I fucking well hope it is.
As a man whose missus fucked off with his best mate some three years ago, let me tell you; revenge is a powerful motive. Don’t get mad, get even. The rot appears to have stopped – Walcott’s re-signing in January was somewhat of a turning point in theory… this far: NO further. Who gives a fuck if he’s worth the money or not – it was just as important to break the habit of being fucked over by players as it was to keep an asset. From now on, anyone not playing ball needs to be shipped out… I see it in Wenger too…there’s been a more ruthless streak to his player management this season; benching of players regardless of their team standing, an unwillingness to yield to the media…the much vaunted ‘siege mentality’ although only in patches. This we need… we need these players, this club and everyone in it to remember…
“You need big shoulders to play for this club. The Cannon is heavy.”
Saturday Sunday I say we should all choke back the bile, smile at that guard of honour bullshit… live it, let RvP rub our faces in it…watch every chomp of that masticating red nosed arsehole and suck it up. Be silent and let their fans rub it in, suck all the air out of the Emirates with a sheer vacuum of indifference. Aim the disappointment down on the pitch and let everyone there, from the board to the players know that this has to be a turning point… Do it not by shouting and raging like those classless cunts in Fulham. We are Arsenal, we ARE different. We should be using distain, distaste and disregard for all others, for disappointment hurts far worse than vile vitriol. Trust me – I know a thing or two about betrayal. I hope we can start with a sound beating of them on Saturday Sunday but the real work starts in the summer… I’m fucking PISSED, are you?
*Tsk, tsk…you’ve not seen Robocop have you…? No not the new one, the 1987 original.
** SIGH! Go read or watch “The Hobbit.”
*** Oh FFS you don’t get this one EITHER? Where’s the point in my witty use of modern popular western cultural references if you haven’t bloody well READ or SEEN them eh?