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The Critical Gooner: Where Does It Start And Where Does It End?

They used to go everywhere together …

For some fans of Arsenal, the relationship they have with the club is akin to what I imagine a failing marriage, patched up ‘for the sake of the kids’ but fundamentally dysfunctional, feels like.

The feeling of having been here before, the compromises, the same old arguments, the same old sticking points.

Eventually though, the kids all grow up and flee the nest.

And maybe that’s where the analogy, thankfully, ends.

In some retail circles, the idea of under-promising and over-delivering holds currency as the risk of angering and then losing disappointed customers is considered too great to play games with. If you falsely promise a customer that an out of stock item will return to stock sooner than is actually the case, customer anger general exceeds the level of the original frustration of the item being out of stock in the first place.

In the ‘90’s the unknown Wenger promised less than nothing when he first pitched up at Highbury and in his first full season, as we all know, over-delivered in delightfully outrageous fashion. Who knew it would be anything more than a one-off but that first title was followed by success after success all the way through to the opening of the Emirates.

In many ways, the Emirates Stadium was the ultimate symbolic example of the appearance of a football club over-promising and subsequently seemingly under-delivering.

To some extent, we have all become the old married couple trying to get back to the way we once were. Oh for the spirit of Highbury! The romance of the cups, the hopes for the future. As upstarts, over-coming the odds, Wenger’s early years seemed so much more harmonious, so much more fun and the brick bats of outrageous fortune felt easier to handle, somehow, even when we didn’t have it all our own way.

The move to the swanky new stadium, with its swanky seats and prices to match proved to be a damp squib for too many of us, as much of a let-down as the lamentable food and drink on offer within the stadium concourse, over-priced and unloved in equal relative measure.

Most of the fans keep plodding along of course, determined to keep some semblance of the old magic alive and with most of them certain, in their heart of hearts, that our time will come again. And it’s been by no means all bad news with European competition an annual given, a couple of cups and the odd near miss punctuating ten years of a riveting, compelling style of football, widely regarded, according to many neutrals, as the nation’s favourite.

But still the underlying issues remain. The vulnerability to injury. The subsequent disruption and loss of form. The perceived annual wobble as we reach the ‘business end’ of the season followed by the frustrating recovery as thoughts turn to the next season, set up with ephemeral promise and seemingly illusory potential, over and over again.

All of the above, of course, is only true when taken in the context of the aggregation of the whole of Arsenal’s Emirates’ years.

In truth, for most other clubs, most seasons since 2006-16 would have been considered pretty exciting and very nearly very ‘successful’.

However, it is the cumulative effect of all our near-misses that is causing the problems in the marriage. Sure, there are set-piece setbacks most seasons and losing to Man U is just one of a number of ‘accelerants’ causing the bonfire of supporter frustration to flame up in what is now alarming – and alarmingly predictable – fashion. Losing (or even drawing) with Spurs is another. We all know the rest, some seasons they come and some seasons they go.

So, losing on Sunday in Manchester by a goal was always going to be disappointing for all connected with the club.

But it’s the context of the defeat, coming as it does as one of ten years’ worth of defeats at Old Trafford, that causes otherwise moderately sane fans to completely lose their rag. Their very sense of perspective causes them, ironically, to lose perspective. In reality, it was only one game. In our heads – as it is in the record books – Arsenal have failed to win in the League at OT since 2006, a remarkable statistic when looked at as a block of results.

And of course, THIS year, due to circumstances we are all familiar with, we were favourites to win this particular encounter. More fuel to the flames.

To make it all worse, much worse, Spurs only go and win from 1-0 down and the upstarts in the Midlands continue their glorious streak. That neither clubs have been able to perform at this level for more than one season will remain unnoticed by the majority of observers; the ‘fact’ is, and despite the absence of petro-dollar funding, they appear to be over-coming the odds as Arsenal continue to underwhelm.

So it wasn’t just an irksome defeat on Sunday, it was defeat whilst all around, our nearest rivals were winning, and winning in some unanticipated style. Under-promising and over-delivering, if you will.

In some ways, Wenger’s temerity in keeping us so competitive for so long has in rather bizarre fashion, been at the heart of the questioning dilemma experienced by the critical Gunner.

The glamour of European competition, the excitement of extended cup runs and lengthy unbeaten spells in the league sits on one side of a football supporting equation. On the other side, our inability to beat everyone all the time has the now default effect of causing the club to perennially over-promise and under-deliver. Season after season.

Every other manager in the league has come and gone as ultimately they failed to keep their club competitive. This includes Ferguson who knew the game was largely up when he over-paid for van Persie for a final season hurrah which ended in triumph at the cost of many years subsequent rebuilding.

Only one man has outlasted every other serving manager in the country and his record – when taken in context with the records of every single one of his competitors – really should speak for itself.

So where does that leave the Arsenal fan base?

Still leaving home games ten minutes early as they mutter about players who don’t give 110% for all 90+ minutes? Still not turning up for cup games at home, if the empty seats were anything to go by during recent encounters.

The years have ground down many of us into a whimpering mass of half-hearted support, bearing the club colours with resentment over prices and anger at the unspent sums seemingly gathering dust in the accounts. Pissed off with the pies and the, er piss on sale in the stadium. No longer focussed on the delivery of unconditional support for the club they once truly loved, their energy dissipated by the latest outrage vocalised and amplified on social media.

At the end of the day, on Sunday, Man U played rather unexpectedly well for their three points which were hardly undeserved. For 70 minutes we kept Barca at bay. And against Hull, whilst we never looked like losing, our out of form attack could not find a way through.

They say this could – and still might – be Arsenal’s season to win the Premier League. Momentum is clearly not with us in the way it has been with Leicester all season and, more latterly, Tottenham. It will take a monumental effort from the players to regain traction to overtake rivals who will be unlikely to repeat the trick in 12 months’ time with the burden of European Cup Competition added to their unlikely fixture mix.

I agree with many who suggest the Arsenal squad this season have failed to truly hit the heights of the form we all assume they are capable of. The Ozil assist record sits uncomfortably alongside our missed chances tally.

But as fans we all have to ask ourselves one question.

Let’s imagine the team rediscover their shooting boots, remember to lock the back door and deign to dominate midfield to go on a season-ending marauding run that takes us to the very front door of being next year’s champions.

Will we as fans have managed to stay with them? To help push them through the door and over the threshold of footballing bliss.

Or will our boys end up winning – or losing – regardless of the fans.

Have we as fans become irrelevant to the success and failure of our own club?

About ArsenalAndrew

Annoying, perennial optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen. My support for the club manager and every single player is non-negotiable, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Retain all options on fellow fans.

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76 comments on “The Critical Gooner: Where Does It Start And Where Does It End?

  1. Ronald Koeman’s haircut is pure Baldrick – no wonder he is a cunning bastard

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 3 minutes in and CFC are 1 up at Norwich, if they win they will be only 8pts off Man City in 4th

    Like

  3. LCFC losing at home to WBA 1-0

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Baggies 1-0 at the King Power
    It’s a start

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Shotts

    Did you get my email?

    Like

  6. LCFC 1-1 WBA

    Like

  7. LCFC 2-1 WBA,

    Like

  8. half time scores

    AFC Bournemouth 1 – 0 Southampton
    Aston Villa 0 – 2 Everton
    Leicester City 2 – 1 West Bromwich Albion
    Norwich City 0 – 2 Chelsea
    Sunderland 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

    Like

  9. AA, how droll!

    Money talks,

    ManU, starting XI on Sunday = £183 millions + salaries ??

    Arsenal, starting XI on Sunday = £145 millions + salaries ??

    Walcott reputedly £100,000 per week

    Rashford perhaps £30,000 per week?

    Walcott, quite obviously was sent to Coventry on Sunday.

    COTG, prove the armchair managers are vagabonds, and not worth the minimum living wage.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. LCFC 2-2 WBA

    Like

  11. Names are misleading ‏@GoonerEll 30m30 minutes ago Borehamwood, England
    Please note, Wenger haters.

    Motivational Quotes @DavidRoads
    Being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It’s leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Don’t know why but a boisterous song that’s been vary popular with those sputh at sing in the post 5pur2s seasons following those battles for the CL spots just sprang to mind:

    “There were ten Tottenham points in the gap…”
    etc.

    Of course if people bought into the meme that “everything is sh*te” they wouldn’t have been singing that song I guess, or enjoyed the famous 1-1 at Newcastle etc.

    Like

  13. That > sputh at

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  14. so refs can’t see these tackles by lcfc players, after the one atkinson let go on Ramsey, tonight we have this

    Like

  15. BBC 5 live Sport ‏@5liveSport 46m46 minutes ago
    #AVFC just won a corner.

    It was their first in THREE games.

    It went straight out for a goal-kick.

    #AVFC 0-2 #EFC

    Like

  16. Steve Gooner ‏@Merse10 9h9 hours ago
    Where were all the leaders in 92, 93, 94, 95, 96 & 97 when we didn’t win the league. Or 1999 & 2003 when we choked?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. FT: LCFC 2-2 WBA

    Like

  18. AFC Bournemouth 2 – 0 Southampton
    Aston Villa 1 – 3 Everton
    Leicester City 2 – 2 West Bromwich Albion
    Norwich City 1 – 2 Chelsea
    Sunderland 2 – 2 Crystal Palace

    if spurs beat WHU tomorrow they go top of the table

    if Arsenal beat SCFC tomorrow, they will be 3pts off top spot

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  19. Fins: I will check my email at home. Still working.

    Like

  20. So LCFC drop 2 points and 10 games to go. As the pressure builds we will see how important it is to have a consistent way of playing rather than kicking and hoping into the mixer bypassing the midfield.that a lot of blogger. By the end of this season there will be a lot of bloggers and podcasters will be proven as frauds with no backbone, totally unfit for the ups and downs of football. As Fins said, many of us remember that mind the (10-point) gap meme, the Aston Villa chase to the last 2 games, and the infamous lasagna last supper. At the other blog the frauds emerged slowly but surely, bitter and rancid, cursing lucky Arsene for winning 2 FA cups in a row.
    Over and over cream rides to the top. Fear not boys and girls.

    Like

  21. Alex ‏@Alex_is_Sanchez 57m57 minutes ago Barnet, England
    Leicester’s fairytale

    Like

  22. sportingintelligence ‏@sportingintel 16m16 minutes ago
    If Spurs win tomorrow, they go top of the Premier League league for first time … ever. (Outside of August)
    h/t @oilysailor

    Like

  23. Oh, look, we’re five behind Leicester with a game in hand and we face the Spuds next week. It’s as if that loss to Man U wasn’t as season defining as some thought.

    As with every team which is designed for the counter attack, Leicester City are going to struggle with teams that park the bus. They barely made it past Norwich the other day and now they’ve been finally stopped by West Brom. Next up for them it’s Watford, which has draw written all over it as well.

    The Spudniks are away at West Ham which is one of the toughest places to visit. If they drop points and we win, we’re right back in it. Oh, and they have a few more weeks of Thursday night football left if they beat Dortmund.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. injury set back for Cazorla

    Arsenal have been rocked after key midfielder Santi Cazorla suffered a worrying setback in his return from a knee injury. The Spaniard has been missing since November after undergoing surgery to cure a knee ligament injury suffered in the 1-1 draw at Norwich earlier this season.
    It was hoped that Cazorla would be available again this month, with the Champions League last-16 second leg clash against Barcelona on March 16 pencilled in as a potential return date.
    However, the diminutive midfielder has suffered a blow in his return after picking up a case of Achilles tendonitis. ‘Santi is not doing too well, he has some Achilles problems that hold him back,’ confirmed manager Arsene Wenger yesterday. ‘His knee is doing well but his Achilles has inflamed a little bit and we have to put him off impact work. ‘We have to see now how he responds.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3471756/Arsenal-suffer-woe-midfielder-Santi-Cazorla-sees-comeback-halted-case-Achilles-tendonitis-following-knee-injury.html#ixzz41h4u4bvn
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    Like

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