This is going to be a challenging blog to write today. Challenging in the sense that I suspect at times I’m going to come across as angry. As The Management often says to me though: I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.
So the challenge is conveying a person who is not angry. I really am not. The challenge is getting across to you that I am resigned to the fate of this Arsenal team under Arsène Wenger. Trying to project apathy on to a blog is quite hard. Unless I fire in the occasional ‘Meh’ randomly in between paragraphs.
Arsenal were the very definition of ‘meh’ yesterday, and so was the entire matchday experience inside the ground too, I might add. There were plenty of empty seats in the upper tier, around me in Block Five there were people who had clearly given up their tickets to friends, so the atmosphere was as muted as I’ve ever heard it. Even the singing section had a little bit more difficulty maintaining the noise levels.
It wasn’t helped in the slightest by a team who looked like they wanted to win the ‘most passes completed in a season’ trophy. Arsenal dominated possession, yet Hennessey was rarely tested. We popped the ball sideways and backwards with consummate ease, which suited an exceedingly bang-average Crystal Palace team to a tee, because they came for a smash and grab and got exactly what they paid for.
I took my dad and after the game he joked of rebates, of strange atmosphere’s and of a lovely pre-game meal in the Duchess of Kent, to which I reflected that yes, it was a lovely meal. Because let’s face it, the rest of what transpired yesterday was insipid and lifeless and symptomatic of a team that has no real motivation or belief.
Who’s job is it to get them – and keep them – motivated I wonder?
The first half drifted by like a blur. We passed and passed, Alexis looked lively, albeit still losing a lot of the ball through not being on the same passing wavelength as his teammates. I thought Özil had a poor game, but looking at his chance creation I think I’m probably mistaken, because he certainly seems to have put the ball in the right place. But like on so many occasions this season we just couldn’t finish our dinner. The mobility and movement of our forward line that has looked so good over the last few weeks just wasn’t effective. Iwobi, Welbeck and Alexis just couldn’t get behind a Palace team set up to frustrate. Newsflash: Teams with limited players look to set up to be difficult to beat at The Emirates. This Thursday we meet a Tony Pulis West Brom.
There’s just no intensity in the side. They played yesterday like it’s all over. We all knew that, but we’re not the ones representing the club, and we’re certainly not the ones being paid for the privilege. The players looked like the majority of the fans yesterday; like it was a bit of a chore having to do this. I wonder if the Arsenal players have accepted the fourth placed trophy already?
Nobody came out of yesterday’s game with any credit from an Arsenal point of view. Petr Cech was beaten when he really shouldn’t have been. If that was Ospina or Szczesny that made a limp-wristed attempt at the ball, there would be outrage, so he’s got to have a look at himself for that.
Defensively the players didn’t really have anything to do, but when they were called upon, they didn’t deal with the threat of the merc known as Adebayor and gave Bolasie the time to pick his spot. Poor all round.
Midfield passed the ball a lot.
Then we made some subs. Giroud mis-controlled the ball a few times, I think, then shrugged his shoulders a bit. I think. Ramsey tried some flicks that didn’t really come off. He did show plenty of energy when he came on. Which is just as well, because at times it felt like the team had all gorged themselves on bread beforehand, and now all the carbs and gluten was making them all a bit schlumpy and all they wanted to do was be at home with their kids and/or pets.
Theo came on and ran in to two players.
The game was turgid, the atmosphere was turgid, this season has been turgid, the manager we have is a relic.
The season isn’t over and all I can think about is a glorious summer with no football and no Arsenal. I need it, because right now I’m sick of the sight of some of them, which is not healthy because I want to feel adoration for every single one. Especially the manager. Instead I’m looking forward to a short break, so I can hopefully get enthused about the farewell tour of Arsène next season, unless of course the club offer him another three years.
Blimey. Just writing that alone made me take a deep intake of breath and let out a sigh. Imagine doing another four years of identical seasons like this. That’d be torture. To have the same outcomes but with slightly different players. To make the same mistakes. To have the same repetition of post match player and manager interviews. To bare witness to the same implosions after being given a snippet of hope.
We’ve (thankfully) only got five games left. I think the manager has probably accepted the fourth place finish is what he’s after and Lord knows the board and owner will be delighted. Just five games of this wretched season left until freedom. Ahh, how I will back in it.
Still, at least it’s a nice day in London right now, so that’s good. Plus I’m going to Dubai in a week and a halfs time. Plus I’m seeing family in the North East as I travel up to the Sunderland match. The match itself is feeling like a mild inconvenience, but maybe I’ll feel differently in a few days time.
Have a good one. Do something non-football related. Enjoy your life and the friends and family you have around you. Life is too short to worry about trivial things like football.
Catch you tomorrow. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just chill and not worry about football for a few days.
(Probably will just pen some thoughts – keeps me busy on the train!)