Did you ever play the popular card game “Top Trumps”? Well, regardless if you did or didn’t, there was always one card that pretty much beats any other card in the whole deck. I have the Marvel version of the game and I think it’s the Incredible Hulk. Well, the reason I’m bringing this up today, is because in footballing terms, the ‘Top Trump”, i.e. the thing that overrules everything else, is victory. Ultimately, football is about winning and yesterday Arsenal did that. They huffed, they puffed, they labored and looked disjointed at times, but the “Top Trump” was played and we all get to be a little happier than if we’d have drawn or lost yesterday evening.
So, whilst the remainder of this blog will be dissecting the games and some of the issues I saw, ultimately my Sunday is better because Arsenal won and I can enjoy the rest of my time here in Dubai as a result.
However, all was not sunshine and daisies in Arsenal world, yesterday, was it? Arsene Wenger decided to keep the same side that played against Sunderland and West Brom and quite frankly, for the first half, got exactly what we’ve been witnessing in recent weeks. A forward line with a central point in Giroud that was almost completely immobile at times, plus a midfield that looked all over the place and didn’t manage to control the game not nearly enough, which left us exposed on the counter and even forced a couple of good saves from Cech. I really have no idea why Arsene is persisting with this starting XI. It doesn’t make sense. We have a perfectly capable mobile forward in Welbeck who will pull around the central defences of our opponents, yet we are persisting with a guy who I saw a tweet yesterday of him being video’d for 30 seconds standing still whilst the ball was in the attacking third.
Ben has a conspiracy theory and right now, I’m inclined to believe it, because it revolves around Arsene putting Giroud in the shop window so he can move him on. It’s the only explanation I have, albeit a flawed one because for each game he seems to become more ineffective, as was the case yesterday. However, let me give Giroud his dues; his knock down for Welbeck to finish was well placed and exactly why he was still on the pitch, I suppose.
But I’m still baffled as to why Welbeck didn’t start, with Giroud coming on as that target man option, if Plan A didn’t work. Danny tried to put his absence down to the fact he was ‘blowing’ after thirty minutes, but he’s been back in the team for over a month now and has played up to 75 minutes before, so his fitness for at least 75 minutes shouldn’t have been an issue. Those comments from Welbz strike me as a guy who is looking to defend the managers decision, or at least justify it somehow, because based on his impact you’d have to say Arsene once again made a poor selection decision in his starting XI.
That first half was the stuff of boring nightmares, but the urgency increased about 10% in the second half, thankfully. It’s just as well we were playing a dire Norwich team, because all it did take was a few substitutions, for them to be pulled around a bit. So the win came, Welbeck notched another goal and hopefully there is some confidence that Giroud can get from an assist, but it’s difficult to take much more comfort from the game. It was a real ‘end of season’ affair.
It was also an opportunity for some people to voice their desire for change to occur. There were a spattering of ‘Time for Change’ banners, probably showing the people of the world watching the game, the percentage of match day fans who regularly use social media. But by and large the crowd remained muted for the game, except to respond to the banners with a rendition of ‘one Arsene Wenger’. Obviously I was not there at the game, but had I have been, I don’t think I’d have joined in with the hypocrisy. How can the same people who chanted his name, boo the players off at half time? And why didn’t we see more people chanting for prolonged periods during the game? It just didn’t sit right with me I’m afraid. Surely all of these people who sang ‘one Arsene Wenger’ aren’t happy with the fact we didn’t sign an outfield player last summer? Surely they’re not all delighted he is not accountable to anybody? Surely they don’t find it acceptable that we’ve had another groundgog day in terms of team performance? They can’t all be wishing for top four fights every season, can they? They aren’t all perfectly agreeable about the baffling selection decisions and lack of identity of this Arsenal team, are they? These are all the questions that have gone around my head. I go to nearly all of the home games and there isn’t one person I speak to in any of the pubs around the ground who have said that they’re happy with the manager. So why did we get such a show of defiance?
I have no idea. Perhaps it’s just because football fans don’t like to be told what to do. Perhaps it’s because there is still a large enough percentage of match day fans who take the view that you should never question whilst the game is going on. But it then doesn’t make sense that the same people boo at half time or full time. I’m just confused. I’m not even feeling that ranty. I just don’t get the psyche of the modern match day going Arsenal fan. Perhaps I never will. Feel free to give me any thoughts in the comments. I’m genuinely interested in finding out what other people think on this.
Catch y’all tomorrow.