Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a football club softly creeping
Left has manager that is sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams Wenger walked alone
Nobody could seem to dethrone
The prophetic words of Simon and Garfunkel there folks who, unbeknownst to them, have perfectly described the Arsenal team that we are all now being forced to endure.
And make no mistake about it, this is endurance, of the highest kind with this current situation. And the weather in the London Borough of Islington only served to heighten the feeling of utter despair that every Arsenal fan – those few of us who thought this team might be provoked into a reaction – had to go through last night.
I’ve heard so many different people of other football teams talk about it. So many rival fans describe their current manager and how the players don’t ‘believe’ in him any more, over the years, but never was it so evident than this last week.
Forget the fact that City will win the league. Forget that they’re the best in England, because clearly, they are.
But they didn’t even have to work for it last night. Like they didn’t have to work for it on Sunday. They hit us with a little razzle-dazzle – not a lot mind – and our team’s goose was cooked within half an hour.
If Sunday was a disgrace because the players couldn’t get up for a cup final, last night was a shameful indictment of how low this team has sunk both form and confidence-wise.
The second the goal went in the life was sucked out of this Arsenal team. They looked edgy in defence, wasteful in midfield and aside from the 180 g’s Auba is taking home now, there is little to suggest that he’ll be able to spark something into this team. He’s even being dragged into the malaise too, missing a penalty last night with a pretty tame attempt.
There are so many things wrong at Arsenal right now I don’t know where to begin. The apathy has set in. Fans who aren’t on social media and don’t go ‘full rage’ are now doing what they can by staying away. Arsène can blame the weather if he likes but the reality is that people are losing interest. We’ve been fooled too many times and the belief is gone.
I’ve seen people liken Arsène to an old boxer being pounded on the ropes but simply not giving up because he still believes he’s got that one last big right hook on him. We all see now that it simply isn’t the case and to stick to the boxing metaphor, the best thing for all involved now would be to throw in the towel on the manager. And the season to be fair. We’re a Europa League exit away from this season being rendered utterly redundant.
Last season we wondered if it could get any worse. It has. It is. The team just didn’t perform in any position last night. Mustafi is a joke. Koscielny’s decline is so so sad. Big Sead is floundering less than a year into his Arsenal season. Xhaka is pointless when running back towards his own goal. Ramsey overhitting passes. Özil coasting now his new deal is in the bag. Welbeck is bambi on ice. And the two new boys have been thrown into this mess.
It’s a travesty and watching it isn’t that much fun at all. With all this snow around I prayed that the game could be called off. I just wanted it done another day because we all feared the worst. But whereas previously people had some hope of a response, now that has been all but extinguished, and the same will probably be evident on Sunday. Brighton will be delighted to play us. They’ll say that we could be a ‘wounded animal’ but that’ll just be paper talk. They’ll know that they need to press Arsenal high, hard and fast for the first 15 minutes, then the game will be won if they go ahead. Because this team don’t believe in themselves and they have nobody on the sideline who has any ideas.
He didn’t even bother to change it at half time yesterday. Arsène knows. Arsène knows alright. Knows that he’s finished. The jig is up. The race is run. He cannot motivate the players. He cannot change style or formation. He can’t produce any more Churchillian halftime talks that will change the pattern of a match. They’ve all heard it too many times before.
People are right when they say he isn’t the only problem, but he’s the conduit for so much that is wrong at Arsenal and if you’re going to start a bonfire you have to start with a tiny match and a bit of kindling. We need to set it ablaze now. It’s time for one change that can change the club.
But hey, whilst there is disappointment, I am learning new things even in my thirties and I’m realising that phrase ‘it’s only a game’ is becoming more and more pertinent. I’m becoming more and more numb to Arsenal and I’m appreciating other things in life. Family, friends, other sports. There’s a big wide world out there and football is just a small part of it.
You may not be there with me just yet – this level of apathy, I realise that. But if you aren’t don’t worry, it’ll come soon enough, because Arsenal won’t make any change this season and if Milan smash us next week then there really will be nothing to bother about with Arsenal.
I think the empty seats might even get worse and do you know what? It’s probably for the best. This is the kind of visual statement that makes those in power realise that soon the money will start to dwindle too. Revenues will fall and that’s when they’ll be concerned and act so if the empty seats become a regular occurrence between now and the end of the season – which feels a lifetime away by the way – then perhaps we’ll get the action we seek in the summer.
Right, must be off to work, which also provides a handy distraction from anything football related by the way.
Catch you wonderful people tomorrow.