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Arsène’s Magic Sex Car

Football is a game of theories. Or is it opinions? Like armpits we all have two they say. Or not. In any event I have a theory or two one of which involves this weird, arcane mystery we call ‘form’. Teams have it, players have it, a player can lose it while playing in a team that still has it a team can lose it while a player integral to that team is finding it playing in a team that has lost it. It is linked to class but only in  cliche, it is a transient, intangible wil o’ the wisp entity, a surfboard which, once a team or individual is fortunate enough to clamber onto, can be ridden to the admiring gasps and applause of everybody on the beach.

My belief or theory is simply this. A team will carry the form from one season into the next. There, not too contentious nor too difficult to grasp.  There seems no rhyme or reason to this. Different playing personnel, a new guy in the treatment room , higher ticket prices a dry and rainless September; all irrelevant. Regardless, it seems to me of outside forces or inner turmoil or calm or whatever, we will start off where we left off. We ended last season struggling to find our form. We stuttered and coughed our way to the FA Cup Final like my old Lambretta Li 150 used to splutter it’s way to Bath in the morning when I worked in the MOD at Ensleigh. We barely made it through the semi final and then huffed and puffed before finally blowing Hull’s house down at Wembley and we have been battling to get out of that rut ever since.

Unsurprisingly and in similarly unscientific vein I will support my theory by going back to the start of last season. We began really well, coherent, cohesive, confident – we were table toppers, sweeping all before us with breathtaking displays of consummate footballing ease. Scoring erection inducing goals like the orgasmic one touch team effort against Norwich, and producing climactic football of bewildering telepathic style as we swept Napoli aside in an unforgettable first half, as good a first half as I can remember. I wasn’t in any way surprised by the way we started our campaign last time around because it was in precisely this unbeatable form that we had ended the season before, thundering up the table to claim our rightful place among Europe’s elite. Of course for reasons we all know and which have been sufficiently rehashed here and elsewhere we faltered. Confidence, that elusive and teasing lover turned her back on form and we fell just short, a couple of places and a few points shy of where we wanted to be.

Why does this happen to teams, to individuals within those teams? Why are athletes, all so rigorously trained and finely tuned susceptible to losing their mojos and how do they get back into the groove? Arsène seems to believe that you simply have to keep on doing what you’re doing, keep on trying to do the right things and as long as you have the right players and the right balance in the side then the good stuff will once more start to flow and confidence will flutter her eyelashes, then where form once shrunk shrivelled and forlorn he will grow firm, tumescent and proud and we will be rampant once again. In other words there is no magic formula nor any science that can be brought to bear. These things come and go, are cyclic in nature, you just have to believe that positive effort will breed positive results, or as a mathematically inclined and literal friend of mine used to say, x = x.

Let’s not shy away from the truth here. It is obvious that we are stuttering a little this season. A couple of players are clearly struggling to produce the form of which we know they are capable and the understanding between team mates isn’t always evident. Passes appear to go awry because the intended recipient moves in an unexpected direction or doesn’t make the anticipated run, two players find themselves occupying the same space and attempting to play the ball at the same time, majestic, sweeping cross field passes are over hit by the merest fraction of an ounce and sail out of play. We seem sometimes to be trying to force the issue, confused when the move breaks down, when the one touch passing is intercepted, struggling to repair the damage when a usually reliable player is dispossessed. It’s as if there is a drop of water in the carburettor and the normally quiet purr of the Arsenal engine experiences an occasional cough, an arrhythmic interruption in its usual sweet melody.

Now, before we get carried away, I have to say that we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the vehicle we’re discussing is not something thrown together in Harry Redknapp’s scrapyard. This is a beautiful machine, lovingly assembled by one of the games greatest craftsmen, superbly engineered from nothing but the finest components and even when not running at its smoothest is still a far far better ride than ninety percent of all other cars on the road. The only problem is that when you meet Dortmund in the scintillating pomp of their very best form or Martin Atkinson and Eden Hazard playing at the absolute top of their game at Stamford Bridge then you need to be firing on all cylinders, anything less and you get found out.

Will Sunderland be the game in which we turn the mythical corner of which bloggers and journalists are so fond of speaking? I don’t think so. Not because I have lost belief in the team or the individuals within it but because I don’t subscribe to the bunkum that good form is regained overnight or in one afternoon. It is a gradual process and a good win today will be a step on the road nothing more. Confidence can be easily lost but has to be found again carefully, it is a cumulative and delicate process. Unless of course, you are Lukas Podolski . I suppose some players just have that innate brashness and joie de vivre that allows them to express their love of the game and all round happiness with their lot by sauntering into a cauldron of uncertainty and trepidation and calmly banging home the ball at the first available opportunity. Just like some folk respond to praise while others like to have their faults explained to them in agonising detail so they can better address them, footballers are individuals, human beings and no matter how well trained nor how lavishly rewarded are frail and susceptible creatures just like you and I.

Of course one thing is beyond question. All sportsmen respond better to a positive, supportive and encouraging environment. No one ever performed better because some mindless, talentless, moronic oaf yelled abuse at him or whipped up an angry mob to decry his ability to succeed. How well would you do your job if folk gathered around you to groan every time you tried something and it didn’t quite work? I firmly believe that Arsène’s beautiful, sexy machine will soon be running smoothly again, that Santi will find his passes that Aaron will find the goal and that before too long we will all have plenty to celebrate. In the meantime we can help each other and help the team by staying positive, by keeping to our principles and by doing the one job that supporters have to do. Support.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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83 comments on “Arsène’s Magic Sex Car

  1. Finsbury, how could you ignore Len Shackleton?

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  2. Len ?
    You mean Ernest NOTH

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  3. Only listened to the commentary on the Arsenal website and saw the highlights on MOTD but that all seemed comfy enough, if a little deliberate and cautious at times. Cautious in attack that is – understandably cautious in defence. 2-0 away from home after a trip to Brussels on Wednesday (where we also scored two goals to win) with at least six genuine first picks unavailable strikes me as a pretty good effort. A week now to get some rest and freshen up, and although it might not have felt like it at the time, what a relief they are not having to play a COC game in midweek.

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  4. I watched the game on a decent stream after NBC, whom those of us in the Americas must depend, decided that Liverpool and Balotelli had more potential for their mindless sensationalism. Nil all, served them right.

    Thank heavens, I read two of my favorite bloggers on PA, Steww and Fins, before the game. They helped with my increasing anxiety through the game as we seem unable to get that 2nd goal to kill off the game. It is easy to glibly say that only the points matter but it is painful to see our team struggle to regain the form and achieve the level of excellence we know it is fully capable. Add to that our rotten luck with the injury gods.

    It seems Wenger is taking no chances. Playing Flamini and Arteta in the double pivot today seems we are going back to the same tactics in 2012-13 when we emphasized defensive solidity until we could get back to our attacking best. I love the heroics of Alexis’ but I won’t be comfortable until we start getting goals from multiple sources.

    We will get better, I am sure.

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  5. Like Shotta, the preference here in Australia was given to Liverpool.

    Finally got a chance to watch the game. As I’m watching I notice that free kicks for Arsenal near the opposition box – i.e. ‘within shooting range’ – are just not allowed by Mr Friend. Then any chance possible an Arsenal player is given a yellow card on their first offense – whereas opposition players continue to receive ‘talking to’.

    I see Mr Friend is no friend of fair play.

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  6. Never thought I would want Man Utd to win a football match, but next to the Chelsea/Mourinho axis, they are the lesser of two weavels.

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  7. Just a belated thanks to Stew and Fins: two extraordinary posts, full of fun and wisdom. And thanks to Mills too for the video clip, which put a real smile on the face.

    And to honour Fins’s Mean Time theme, a little offering from the Poet Laureate.

    The clocks slid back an hour
    and stole light from my life
    as I walked through the wrong part of town,
    mourning our love.

    And, of course, unmendable rain
    fell to the bleak streets
    where I felt my heart gnaw
    at all our mistakes.

    If the darkening sky could lift
    more than one hour from this day
    there are words I would never have said
    nor heard you say.

    But we will be dead, as we know,
    beyond all light.
    These are the shortened days
    and the endless nights.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Foreverheady,

    The first line of that poem confuses me a bit -“The clocks slid back an hour
    and stole light from my life” because when the clocks go back you appear to get another chance to live 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. all over again, and the morning light replaces the morning gloom.

    Still, the Poet Laureate knows his stuff, and as i said, I am but a Confused Blogger. [Exculpated Smiley Whatnot]

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  9. Thanks for that foreverheady. I feel the same sense of closing, darkening gloom as the evening light is stolen from us. Stupid Scottish farmers.

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  10. Oooooh! It’s all getting rather cultural on here!

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  11. Arsenal travel to the North East
    And everyone is expecting a feast
    of goals, coz Sunderland are leaking
    But Arsenal lack the tactical tweeking

    But Wes Brown cocks up well ‘n’ good
    And Sanchez does what he should
    He runs through on goal so quick
    And chips Vito who just looks sick

    Then further poor play by the gunners
    Sees no return from the front runners
    Till Vito steps in once again, poor sod
    And Sanchez takes the gift my God

    Not a super performance by us
    But Sunderland seem poor under Gus
    And three points is all that matters
    Because we left poor Vito in tatters

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  12. Santi missed a trio, but
    Thanks to the B’Jaysus
    We’ve still got a Theo.
    The defence was alright
    Who says it’s shite?
    I’m just happy with
    The clean sheeto.
    There is a star in Alexis
    Some days he’ll vex us
    And on away days he’ll amaze us.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Black cat with fortune
    Slips lightly past the foot of Vito
    A life gone
    Poor pussy

    Liked by 2 people

  14. ” further poor play by the gunners”

    Really?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful, Steww.

    I read your piece very late last night – once I stopped imagining the thorough slating Arsenal must’ve gotten for winning at Sunderland. I was able to sleep peacefully, despite my hatred of GMT in England. In winter we should have GMT +2. In that way there’d be some light in the afternoons. Pah.

    I do think that “form” applies more to those not playing the football. You know, the refs plundits, managers, etc. They are entirely more predictable, no? (Certainly more consistent, cos I can always predict what they do/say).

    That takes nothing away from this superb and well written article! (Which I’ll to read again as it’s a new day).

    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. NOTH
    Len who? I think you might just have nominated yourself to write a preview for Sunderland’s visit to N5!

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  17. This “poor play” thing – When DW23 gets baulked and receives a card for diving, how does that and the many other refshite crapettes contribute.

    http://arsenalist.com/f/2014-15/sunderland-vs-arsenal/danny-welbeck-booked-for-diving.html

    I accept that not every pass from every Arsenal player is perfect in every game, but isn’t that the same for every team that ever played?

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  18. note the amt of fouls and cards in this game against Chelsea unlike the murder they got away with in their game against us

    Liked by 3 people

  19. George: I have written a few rambling thoughts that may do for the morning but have misplaced your email address.

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  20. Where is our furry leader ?

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  21. Is he in the hands of black scarved desperadoes ?!

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  22. Think he has indeed gone missing. Or possibly contemplating a bottle of whisky and a service revolver after realising that both Diaby and Gibbs are injured.

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  23. Where is this news about Diaby coming from?

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  24. What news DC what news

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  25. Anyone with a spare lifetime might want to look through this list.

    Yet we still carried on .

    http://www.physioroom.com/news/english_premier_league/clubs/1/arsenal_injuries.html

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Hayden, Bellerin and Chuba all officially promoted to the first team squad bringing the number of graduates in the squad to eight. Info just in from Jeorge Bird

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  27. Nothing definite about Gibbs or Diaby.

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  28. Can we picture home and away wins from the following teams?

    West Ham
    Swansea – 2 weeks time
    Stoke
    WBA
    Aston Villa – away win done
    Palace – home win done
    Sunderland – away win done
    Newcastle Utd.
    Burnley – next Saturday
    QPR

    We play each one, once by New Year’s Day.
    60 points up for grabs.

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  29. I think your Maths is a bit out there DC.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Ok George,
    10 teams – we play each one by New Years and it could be 30 points up for grabs.

    Same happens with opposite fixtures after Christmas. That’s the other 30 points.
    Arsenal’s record against the cannon fodder in the PL is exceptional, but no one ever wants to mention it. Only go on about the big 6.

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  31. Well fine, But still, your maths was err, mm, wrong. By 50%

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