I will get to the football that was played last night, eventually (and unfortunately), but first of all there should be only one place to start today’s Arsenal-related musings and that is with the protest yesterday. Estimates between 2,000 to 3,000 fans were there outside the ground yesterday and in bringing together that many people to protest against KSE and the Kroenke’s, Arsenal fans well and truly made their voices and their feelings known against an absent ownership who have delivered nothing but steady decline since they took majority ownership.
Whether the ‘Arsenal board’ have ‘heard you’ remains to be seen though. We all know Stan couldn’t give a monkey’s about us as a collective, the Super League in itself was an example of that, but we are doing what we can to try to rid ourselves of this parasite that has attached itself to our beloved football club. As I’ve already said this last week; this needs to be the beginning of the movement. There needs to be more. More protests, more initiatives designed to show KSE that they were never trusted, they’ve blown their shot, they should get out of town. Hey, when the Spotify owner comes up and tells you that he is an Arsenal fan and would buy the club, at least it shows that we have options for somebody else to come in.
The noise was also audible when Arteta was doing his pre-match speech, as it was for the first 20 minutes of the game, along with the consistent chuff of a media helicopter filming the proceedings. Everyone inside the stadium was more than aware of what was going on outside. It was so good to see Arsenal fans unified, not fighting, joining together against the common evil. A proud day to be an Arsenal fan.
Then, unfortunately, there had to be a game that was played and in terms of on the pitch it was certainly not a proud day. I don’t really know how to dissect this game because after the anger of the whole week all directed towards the ownership, I really felt like a big part of rage had been drained from me for the match itself. Normally I tweet 30 or 40 times during the game. I might have managed five last night. I did a fair few afterwards but that’s when the realization set in that Arteta will have presided over our worst season since I have been an Arsenal fan. In 1993 we were poor but by this time in 1993 we’d already won the League Cup, so there was a trophy that was there to appease the atrocious form. We’d also beaten Tottenham (one nil to The Arsenal) in the FA Cup semi final and that would help to carry us through to the end of the season with a FA Cup final awaiting. But where we are right now we are out of form, we await our former manager who will have his Villareal side super fired up for this, with a team that has suffered it’s injuries and looks frankly terrible at the moment.
The football was like watching a pre-season friendly. Misplaced passes, some wild shots from Partey, a whole load of blocked shots as we failed to muster anything significant in the first half and by half time I was just glad we were halfway through the pain of having to sit through it. Slow and laboured passing, lack of incision, it’s all the type of stuff that during pre season you just say “the important thing is players getting their fitness back”. There is no such excuse for this performance and whilst Everton offered little through the game bar a couple of free kicks and a half-decent Leno save in the first half, we were equally as ‘meh’.
Then to the second half, which often I watch us and think “we can’t be as bad as that in the second half”, before realising that actually we very much can be. However we were better than Everton and within six minutes we were VAR’d yet again. I’m sorry but when the VAR man in Stockley Park is getting the lines drawn on wrong – even mild-mannered Alan Smith was saying that the lines didn’t look right – then you know the application has a problem. I’ve heard that there will be a new system coming in which has a level of tolerance and supposedly be left to a bit of AI; it can’t come quickly enough for me because the PGMOL ruining the application of VAR just sums up what this wretched season has become. It has become as soulless and dull as The Arsenal themselves under the stewardship of KSE.
My frustration didn’t last long though because, frankly, I couldn’t care less. I am counting down the days until the end of this domestic season. Five. Just five games we have to endure before this can all be over. And if I’m honest with you, I think it will probably all feel over after the Villareal second leg, because on this form I can’t see how this Arsenal side overcomes them. Perhaps I’m just in a depressed mood at the moment but we have no momentum, no key striker to lead the line (Eddie hardly did enough to have us all excited about his inclusion on Thursday), no drive about us and to top it all off, a ‘keeper who has let another rickett in last night to lose us the game. It was a horrendous gaff from Leno and not the first this season. I joked that even Matty Ryan must fancy his chances now, but that doesn’t seem like too much of a joke to be honest, because that Leno mistake looks more horrendous the more you watch it. If outfield players should be dropped for mistakes and poor form, why not ‘keepers? It’s a consideration, that’s for sure.
Where do we go from here? Well, everything now rides on that game on Thursday and I’m not overly confident, then we have a load of meaningless league games that we have to play out. Arteta conceded that the qualification for Europe is probably now done for us domestically. So it really is Europa League or bust. That feels like a mountain to overcome right now.
Catch you tomorrow with some more ramblings. Hey, at least Arsenal can’t ruin our weekend, right?