See, that’s the kind of seemingly innocent enquiry which really chafes my backside, brings me out in hives and makes me want to go hunt down the editors who instruct their minions to ask such loaded questions. Journalist to Arsène at this week’s presser: “Can you tell us a bit more about the work he’s done off the pitch to make such an improvement on the pitch?” This enquiry was, believe it or not, about Mesut Özil. Why do I get in such a lather about such an irrelevance as the form of words chosen? Isn’t the hack actually praising one of Arsène’s key signings? More than that wasn’t there an unintended sliver of praise for the great man and his coaching methods?
The editorial line and media mantra where Mesut is concerned has shifted to ‘the jury used to be out’ (certain ex managers have failed to read the memo on that one haven’t they Mr Moyes?). This in turn had followed on from the nonsense about him being a ‘flop’. Now that it has become simply impossible to deny his genius and maintain credibility with any other than the criminally insane (and a few Chelsea fans), the line has had to be altered once more.
Of course what matters to the press is that their earlier gibberish about Mesut being a flop must under no circumstances be shown up for the utter horse shit that it always was. So rather than apologise for the lies they have consistently told about him they have to suggest he has improved. Not that he was and always has been one of the very best players in world football but that he has miraculously got better since a couple of seasons ago when he committed the ultimate crime of signing for Arsenal. An act heinous enough in itself but one compounded by proving that Arsène Wenger will in fact spend money when he has it to spend. For these sins our Deutsch Genie simply had to be castigated. Being part of a disgraced and disgraceful body of men and women the apparatchiks of the press must now say he has improved. Not admit they were wrong, but say that things have changed.
Ian Wright uses the same damning with faint praise on the telly. I accidentally had English speaking commentary on the other day and the one time Arsenal legend couldn’t just say what a great player Nacho Monreal is. Neither could he point out how brilliant an Arsène Wenger signing he was, thus proving so many people wrong yet again by not being a huge ‘name’ and not costing the earth. No, Ian had to describe him as the most improved player in our squad. Once again that word, implying that all the undeserved criticism wasn’t short sighted and ill informed over reaction but that things had unexpectedly changed. It is grudging false praise, disguised, self serving criticism and hearing it makes me want to sit on a barbed heated spike for relief.
How anyone can defend any of these lying, parasitic, twisted, immoral scumbags defeats me. They dig the well and fill it with the poison upon which the anti Arsenal Regiment sustains its moronic hordes of foot soldiers. They direct the herd, they are cheerleaders for all that is base and wicked about the modern game and society in general. Eschew them I say! Eschew them vigorously and at every turn.
Right, now I’ve cleared that one up let us turn to the matter in hand. A Saturday afternoon three o’clock kick off, nearly a week after our last game. Some semblance of normality returns. I used not to mind Newcastle. There was a time they played good football and were a thorn in the side of the red nosed prince of darkness. Since that ruddy cheeked ex side kick of Sauron took over at St James’ Park and sent his boys out with the express instructions to boot us off the park back in August of what I suppose I must learn to start calling last year, my views have tilted away from such magnanimity.
It was as horrible and inept a display of the violent thuggish approach to stopping us play as you could hope to see. Inept because even the referee couldn’t ignore it. Also, given that some of their team can actually play, it was unnecessary and ultimately self defeating. Some will feel that we ought to have won by more goals but then some people would moan that a million pounds was too heavy if you handed it to them as a gift. McClaren’s reaction to the frustration of his plans was almost one of disbelief. Brought up to believe that Arsenal are there for the kicking and they may be shoved around and stamped upon with impunity he must have been bewildered to see the rules of the game applied.
How different are the two teams today? Back in the late summer sunshine we were bruised and confused by an opening day defeat, injured by a wrongly disallowed winner against Liverpool and with only one victory in three might have viewed a trip to Geordieland with mild trepidation. Newcastle had drawn two and lost one in the league and played us on the back of a four one victory over Northampton in the League Cup four days previously. Now, at the time of writing, we are top of the tree and they sit languishing in the relegation zone with the abject Aston Villa and a sorry Sunderland for company.
They had an up down time in November and December losing heavily to Palace and Leicester and beating Liverpool and Spurs since when they’ve drawn with fellow bottom feeders Villa and lost narrowly to both Everton and West Brom. Pick what bones from that lot as you see fit. I think that in line with everything else that has happened this season it means they are unpredictable. As of course are we. Out on our feet against twelve man Southampton and two days later gambolling through the Bournemouth defence like spring lambs.
We are now in the wonderful position of holding our destiny in our own hands. Win by at least as big a margin as Leicester and we stay top. It really is as simple as that right now. Like all good recovering alchies I take the season one game at a time. This approach prevents me from getting carried away with the end of the season before the February snows have fallen and helps me to live in the moment. It also means that I’m extra crushed by poor results but every philosophy has its downsides. As long as I don’t wallow in disappointment then I know I only have to stay sane for a few days and another match will come along to sustain me.
I hope Newcastle don’t try to boot us off the pitch today. I’d like to see a good game of football. This supporting lark is, after all, about entertainment first and foremost and results are a secondary consideration. A good result can console you after a poor performance but nothing beats seeing us in our swashbuckling free flowing pomp as when we scored that most Arsenal of second goals on Monday evening.
More of the same today please chaps. If you’re lucky enough to be at the match I hope the pies are hot and the urinals fragrant. If not I hope you find a stable stream with unintelligible commentary and lets hope we continue to prove the pathetic drones of the press corps wrong – even if they are too craven to ever admit it.