Humiliation – Is that perhaps too strong a word to describe yesterday’s match? On the face of it, yes. Some might say the word humiliation is a little melodramatic but, lets analyse things first.
Firstly, this is our first competitive match of the season. It comes on the back of a half decent run in last term. Granted, we didn’t face the strongest opposition during those games, but we did grind out results. We are also nearly through the transfer window so if you take 1st July as the official start we have had six to seven weeks in which to address any areas of concern. Coupled with the fact that our CEO openly boasted that we have adequate funds to strengthen, we should by now be in a position of strength.
I think everyone who enjoys football knows that opinions vary wildly on pretty much every aspect of the game. Fans of the same club can describe a player so differently that you could be forgiven for thinking they are even talking about the same person. It is this aspect of the game that gives it such broad appeal and allows newspapers and magazines to sell thousands of copies and football radio shows to be so popular. That being said certain things can polarize opinion. I am absolutely sure that every reader will agree Lionel Messi would improve any side no end. Similarly, all Arsenal fans will agree Denis Bergkamp was a fantastic player for Arsenal and a terrific servant of our club. On this basis I am sure I can get across the board agreement that Arsenal are:-
Short of players with decent first team experience anywhere
- Specifically in need of players in certain positions as a matter of urgency.
I watched the match yesterday and I thought at times we played some good football. We did some stuff very well and we were in truth unlucky not to score more goals. Our problems are the same age old ones. We still try to walk the ball into the back of the net and we are lightweight through the middle. I would say Vieira and Gilberto would be the last proper defensive/holding midfielders we have had. Not only could they both do a good job of breaking up play but, especially in the formers case, could turn a game with a run. Often though they just needed to let the opposition know they were about with an early bone shuddering, but fair, tackle. It would whip the crowd up and galvanise the rest of the team. We lack this enforcer, this powerhouse. Don’t misunderstand me though, I know Jack Wilshere would run through walls for us but at 5’7” he isn’t going to put the fear of God into Yaya Toure and co?
My point in all this is, everyone knows what we need except it seems, Arsene Wenger. How has he not managed to bring in this type of player when so clearly he has seen the benefits of such beasts in the past? I will let you ponder that whilst I also ask how we can possibly be able to challenge for any honours with such a shortage of first team players.
Defenders, especially centre backs are always prone to the odd card. I would say Koscielny was very unlucky yesterday to see red and I know many will fume about it for months to come but it is an occupational hazard. Similarly, all players can get injured, Arsenal fans know this to be true more than most. We also know that initial two or three weeks “knocks” can quickly become two ankle ops and a twelve month rehabilitation. Our defensive squad yesterday of two right backs, two centre backs and one left back was ok, that is ok if you forget the preceding two sentences. Two injuries and a sending off added up to us ending the match with our second choice right back, one (slow) centre back and Podolski at left back. Unfortunate, yes, avoidable, definitely.
Now to look at our opposition. We ended the last season a full thirty two points ahead of them. We lost seven games to their seventeen. They had big dramas with their main striker who wanted out, but, managed to keep him and he scored twice for them yesterday. (On a side note – Our former top striker scored twice yesterday too – shame we didn’t do enough to get him to stay ?) They have made some signings, nothing to set the pulse racing but they didn’t look out of their depth at an imposing place like Arsenal with sixty thousand fans. In the second half they made us look amateurish, moaning and groaning at bad decisions and brandishing imaginary cards always gets my goat.
People in charge at our club from the CEO to the manager have told us to forget the last few years of austerity and now is the time for us to move forward and reap the benefits of our frugal attitude. Financial Fair Play, massive increases in television revenue, new commercial deals all add up to a bumper transfer kitty and no danger that our best and brightest have to be sold. If you can bring yourself to erase from your memory all the false promises of the last decade we have finally reached the promised land. Sorry, let me get back to reality. The fact is we haven’t sold our best this year because we don’t have anyone attractive enough to other clubs to bid big money for. Equally, we haven’t been able to attract any big names. Scratching around after the flesh eating striker from Liverpool with embarrassing bids with £1 at the end just don’t cut it for me.
I asked if humiliation was a good description for the match yesterday, well yes it is. We are The Arsenal, not some mid table wannabes looking to build a good reputation and break into the top six. It is humiliating to be beaten at home by a team that were clearly so far behind us last season. It is humiliating that their top striker, who incidentally, could have been nabbed for a decent offer, was persuaded to stay with no European football and we can’t attract anyone with a decent chance of Champions League qualification. Most importantly it is humiliating that our manager continues to treat the fans like the enemy and say his job is to make us happy? I fear the humiliation will get worse and the thing making me really worry is that we may end up spending our transfer kitty in the next couple of weeks on sub standard panic buys, still fail and leave the next manager with nothing but deadwood to make do with!!