The interlull is over and we thankfully (I think) have real football back. Though I can’t help but feel that there wasn’t as much excitement surrounding a game as usual, especially given the opposition. The only thing we know is that not much has changed at Arsenal over the last couple of weeks. There’s still uncertainty around so many areas. Gazidis even came out and said as much in what looks to have been a very “it’s not my problem” sort of way, which just makes everyone even more frustrated at the situation. You can read his statement of “the decision for Wenger to stay has to be mutual” (sic) in lots of different ways, however the commonality is that it’s not definitive in any way whatsoever. It firmly puts the pressure on Arsene Wenger and it just makes me think, why would he sign on for this? I’ve figured out that it’s the same reason why we go to games, write about them, obsess about them; he loves the club in the same way that we do but he gets paid to do so. It’s all of ours dream job, why would he leave? Moving on. Finally we showed some actual fight. Finally we showed some character (of sorts). Finally we got a decent(ish) result against a top team. But a point against a big team, as Thierry Henry said, can only be considered good if you win the game before and after it. We lost vs West Brom and the West Ham game awaits. Frankly I’m just pleased we didn’t fold like a house of cards when we were behind. It’s refreshing to see, especially because we were behind twice.
The game itself was one where to get a draw we can count ourselves fortunate. In the first half we had more of the ball and plenty of chances but the minute we scored we turned into ‘Panic Arsenal’. The Arsenal that runs around like headless chickens and think that we MUST score immediately. There was no calmness about our play and it led to City hitting the post and then scoring within 2 minutes of our equaliser. So frustrating to watch, yet so utterly predictable. For all of our frustrations as a team as to how we’ve played and how the dressing room has been lost and how we are moving backwards as of last season, the fact is we are in an absolutely identical position to last season. Not to say that’s a good thing, however we are exactly at the same juncture and position as last season. The only difference being we didn’t bottle an FA Cup quarter final this time around and have a trip to Wembley to look forward to.
What I think this identifies is that the Wenger has probably not lost the dressing room (quite yet), however also shows that the progress this season has been non existent. This was the message this summer, we made signings in key positions that needed addressing and the thinking was that this really was going to be our year. We now had the tools we needed to plot a title challenge at the very least. As it turns we are still a few players short, but not only that we seem to be lacking a real identity of football. The various combinations of players haven’t quite worked, nor the slight changes in formation when Wenger has been searching for the right formula, which to me means that there is one man culpable and that is Arsene Wenger. You can make a case in instances where individual players aren’t pulling their weight and where players have hidden in situations where a ‘leader’ is required, however over the course of the season where a team is placed is down to how the manager has deployed his troops over the time period. The above picture shows that we are in no different a position to where we have been over the last 10 years.
The frustration has boiled over into anarchy around the ground and especially on social media. There were videos of supporters attacking one another before, during and after the game and it’s getting a little ridiculous. Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to express that opinion (no matter how much stupidity that opinion is based on) but for violence to be brought into the equation is a sad state of affairs. There is only one thing that will resolve this and it’s clarity, and until that arrives the performances will continue to be indifferent and the fans will continue to rage. Even if he says he’s staying at least the #Wengerout brigade can begin to accept the club’s direction for the next couple of years and maybe begin to support the team. Wenger says the fans were excellent vs City, but the fact is there were plenty of empty seats. Apathy has replaced the vim and vigour of our fanbase and it will only get worse until an announcement is made. The longer the announcement is delayed the higher the risk of apathy being the feeling around our club for the foreseeable future. Until them it will always be Wenger against the players, Wenger against the fans, Wenger against the board, Wenger against the world. Me vs Them.
The battle for the top 4 is now going down to the wire for us and the proposition of finishing outside the Champions League spots is becoming more real by the week, let alone finishing behind that lot. We’re close to seeing a Leicester/Sp*rs Premier League battle except with Chelsea replacing Leicester in the horrifying reality. Yes Chelsea are the lesser of two very evil, evils. Imagine thinking that? Out loud. Eughh. The next game brings us West Ham at home, who humbled us 2-0 last season at our place so we will need to up our game to keep our top 4 hopes alive. Onto the next one as they say. Let’s just pray that we can begin a winning run now.
Have a great week folks.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.