Well in terms of football, that weekend was about as atrocious an depressing as any Arsenal fan could have imagined, wasn’t it? I mean, we didn’t even get the peace and excitement of a Friday before the match before it was all ruined, after a poor performance from those Arsenal players and the same familiar scenes and patterns of play from a team which grows less and less likeable to watch as every game goes by.
But it got gradually worse every day, didn’t it? United smashing Leeds, Liverpool showing what you should be doing to a newly promoted side away from home, Leicester, West Ham all picking up wins, then the poo cherry on the already sh*te cake by having the scum beat Pep’s City as the last game of the weekend. Yep, that was pretty rank, but it’ll get ranker when they play us at the Etihad and suddenly turn in to the Harlem Globetrotters in a couple of week’s time. Thankfully I’ll be on holiday in Portugal so at least I’ll have something to distract myself from the depression that is Arsenal football club.
To be fair I got away with it to a lesser extent this weekend. I couldn’t watch all of the Brentford game as I was on a stag weekend in Edinburgh and as I’m best man and none of the lads like football (I know, right? Weirdos that they don’t put themselves through the same torture we do), as soon as Brentford got their first goal I switched my SkyGo on my phone off and we went and had steak. So whilst I was clearly checking in and it effectively ruined part of my weekend, I had a distraction to at least get that off my system.
It’s also why I didn’t blog over the weekend. Partly because I was hanging a bit, but also partly because I tried to just avoid talking about it for as long as possible. But here I am and it’s a Monday morning sat in my office at home soon to start a working day, so thought I might as well pen some thoughts.
There’s two main things popping in to my head today, both of which the manager centres around. The first is the fact that we all spent entire pre season telling ourselves that the results doesn’t matter. Completely true in isolation. But what I think all of us would have to admit is that we probably needed to see more of the style and approach than we got during the summer, because now the reason everyone is really concerned is that the realisation has dawned that there really doesn’t appear to be an answer from Mikel Arteta right now. We were toothless against Brentford and that’s been the story of Arteta’s tenure for the last year or so and unfortunately he still hasn’t solved it, which is the biggest problem of all. We thought we were getting a young manager, a manager that was going to make mistakes, but one who would be able to fix and correct them. The Brentford game felt like more of the same and the worst thing of all was that we saw it coming from the performances of pre season.
Does he know how to correct these problems? Can he really deliver a cohesive team that can challenge for honours? It doesn’t feel like it at the moment and I think fan sentiment is most definitely on the wane right now. The FA Cup win – still only just over a year ago – feels like a lifetime. That Arsenal team had a plan, a way to break down the opponent, executed well and it delivered silverware. It also gave him loads of goodwill cash in the bank. That was eroded by some of the decision making in the window last season, then the lacklustre performances and many people started to turn on him before Christmas. But he turned it around and that was enough for others to point towards the fact that the second half of the season should be enough to see him prove that the November and December period was just a period of isolation in which he has evolved from. But what we saw against Brentford showed that this Arsenal team still has the ghosts of that barren run, even if a lot of the players who played in the Burnley home game – for example (Holding, Bellerin, Elneny, Willian, Lacazette and Aubameyang) – weren’t even playing on Friday.
It feels like it’s only going to get worse though and in terms of fan sentiment I think Arteta is going to have his work cut out for him if/when we lose to both Chelski and City. Those are the two oil whore clubs, they are the two clubs who can spend £100million on players without batting an eyelid. They are the financially doped sides and will probably duke it out for the title. So on it’s own and given where we are as a team those two games shouldn’t be used to define what will happen with this Arsenal side this season, but by the time all of the players departure for international duty and the transfer window is closed, it will make for bleak reading if it shows Arsenal with zero points and feasibly zero goals scored.
And if the rumours are true about Auba and Laca not being available for the Chelski game, it puts a lot on Balogun, Martinelli, Saka and Smith Rowe to deliver against a Chelski side who were very impressive against Crystal Palace. Arteta could be staring down the barrel by the time September hits. That’s never a good look for the start of the season.
I think I’ll leave it there for the day. It’s been a depressing enough weekend and it feels like this next week will be an even longer build up until next Sunday. Catch you all in the morrow.