It’s Thursday, I have an annoying work presentation to contend with, but all that is ringing in between my ears are the sights and sounds of The Arsenal.
That’s what a well-earned victory against one of the best three teams in the world will give you. But more than that, it gives you something else, something to ponder, which is chiefly: where the bloody hell are we now?
I mean, really, where do we stand? Because I have no clue. I don’t know whether to start thinking and feeling like this Arsenal team is bordering on something special, or is just days away from a cataclysmic implosion that will see elation turn to deflation quicker than a Jose fine letter arriving from the FA by special delivery.
We play Everton in just over 48 hours (from as I write this) and with our recent league and cup form you’d have to think we should be readying ourselves to experience three more juicy points. But you and I both know that Arsenal don’t play by the normal rules. We ripped up that book long ago.
We’re a rollercoaster of a football club, not a monorail. You’ll never get the level of excitement from a Monorail – unless you’re in Springfield and inspired by a Lyle Lanley creation – but it does at least let you know where you are going and you get to your destination without any stress. Equally though, it’s never quite as exciting as the 30 seconds on a rollercoaster, is it?. Last season’s Premier League trophy for Chelski was a monorail ride for them; a slow canter to the finish line with no real issues. Sure, I’d love a monorail ride, but I do wonder if – it’s an ‘if’ with obvious caveats – we actually win the league, I won’t have enjoyed it as much as the rollercoaster Arsenal will put us through if we have the end of the season we’re all dreaming about.
At the beginning of the season I believed that we have enough to win the league. The loss of West Ham, Chelski and Olympiakos/Zagreb have seen me waver from that strong belief, but this Arsenal team has a habit of delivering equal highs to those lows.
Bayern has proved that. United has proved that. Three clean sheets and eight goals in three games all against different but difficult opponents in their own right has proved that. The form of Alexis and Özil has proved that.
Everything is clicking now, but we have no idea for how long this metaphorical sunshine will last, so the hay needs to be made whilst that big fiery ball continues to beam on us.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that we’ve all had these setbacks so early in the season. It is the fallability of the human mind that it needs to be constantly challenged and perhaps the challenge of early defeats and upsets have been the tonic that the team needs to drive to success. But this is Arsenal and we never really truly know if those sentiments ring true, or if we’re but another lackadaisical performance away from more heartbreak, another series of interviews with players about ‘learning lessons’ and another ‘back to square one’ set of conversations we’ll have with each other in the pubs across the world.
It’s not always the team though, I must confess, because I too am complacent as a match day going fan. I have turned up for games and not quite sing as loudly as usual. I am privileged enough that my seat is in Block 5 and that is where most of the noise in the Emirates Emirates from, but I’ve had my ‘less loud’ days too you know. You can judge me if you like, but perhaps I too am just a victim of my own human nature, one of familiarity with surroundings and whilst the phrase that it ‘brings contempt’ is not quite true, perhaps there is something about the fact I watch Arsenal so much that for some games every once in a while, I’m more expectant to be entertained through goals and good football rather than being that clichéd ’12th man’.
So perhaps I should keep a hard copy of this blog for such times that the slight lethargy sets in, to remind me that I need to ensure my effort levels in supporting the team are constant through the season, as much as I have expectations that the players will be as consistent in their performances?
One things for sure: this self-made pep talk (no pun intended based on the manager we’ve just faced) will ensure that I’ll be very loud on Saturday evening. So let’s hope the players respond too.
P.s. That’s not me in the image above, just a random gooner singing his heart out, which I shall emulate to the best of my ability against Everton.