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Arsenal Versus Palace: Springtime Cannibalism

With Aston Villa’s relegation now confirmed there is a whiff of the end of term about the place. The last rites have been read to Bolton and Dagenham & Redbridge and people are anointing probable winners in each of the divisions except for the fourth where Northampton are already champions. Mrs Black is making noises about airing out the Elddis with a view to dragging the old girl to the seaside for a fortnight and all over the country people are wrestling with big decisions concerning new flip flops and the location of last year’s sun lotion.

Our good friends Mike and Kelly Wood are already on vacation, not waiting for the bell at the end of the last class, and certainly not concerned about the factor 40 after a week freezing their haggises off in bonnie Scotland. They, along I suspect with you and the rest of the PA faithful, are not interested in this end of season ennui – not one bit of it. They’ve braved the howling cold and sleet of Britain in spring time partly to catch up with friends and family but also for the opportunity to cheer Arsenal towards the finish line, both this afternoon and on Thursday evening.

They aren’t buying into refrain that it’s all over now, and not just because Mike prefers the Beatles to the Stones. As long as there are enough points on the buffet table we must hope that Arsène and the boys have the appetite to go and grab them and that Leicester and Spurs can still spectacularly drop their plates and end up with devilled eggs on their faces. Okay, so the food metaphors may be a little stretched, but I’m writing this before breakfast so you’ll have to forgive me.

The realists tell us optimists that third is the best we can hope for and that settling for fourth might be the more probable outcome. I’m less comfortable predicting the future especially in this most unpredictable of seasons, but if we are in a dog fight with the giant spenders of City and United for that third spot, we need to scrap for every point from now until the final final whistle.

I know it feels wrong to be approaching May and not looking forward to an FA Cup final. That’s the price we pay for supporting a club which has been so successful in recent seasons; it seems a let down to ‘only’ be battling it out with super rich clubs for third place. Can you imagine how fans of almost every other team look at the whining hordes who claim to support Arsenal moaning about only getting a top four finish?

Having said that I know that it isn’t only Arsenal has to carry the baggage of malcontents and attention seeking children. Look at Newcastle’s wobs. Their vitriolic campaign to oust Pardew turned out really well didn’t it? In fact just look at society in general never mind football in isolation. The culture of objectifying individuals in dumb imitation of the tabloid press, whether they be football managers, actors, politicians, or whatever, is, and has been for some time now, endemic and lamentable.

From the booing in the stadium to the on-line vilification and abuse there are people out there who treat others not as fellow human beings but as mere objects, playthings for their own corrosive amusement. I thought of players like Aaron Ramsey when I read Jon Ronson’s interview with Monica Lewinsky in the Guardian yesterday. They were discussing another figure of public hate and ridicule, Mike Daisey, who said ‘I’d never had the opportunity to be the object of hate before. The hard part isn’t the hate. It’s the object.’. Lewinsky herself talked about how surprised people were that she didn’t just ‘crawl under a rock and die’ after being hounded and humiliated and becoming just a human butt for the jokes of television’s sarcastic and spiteful.

When Stoke fans boo Aaron their most fervent hope (in as much as they think at all) is to drive him and his talent under that very same rock. To inhibit him and his expression of his art to the detriment of Arsenal and the benefit of their own. When Arsenal fans join in and heap abuse on him too, the thing becomes horribly cannibalistic. Salvador Dali’s painting at the top of the page is symbolic of a nation eating itself alive and all the banner waving, abuse throwing, objectifying of our manager and players from our own fans is much the same.

A self defeating, self loathing, masochistic mess of anti support through which the manager and players must wade every week and somehow still perform at their best. Don’t believe they don’t know about either. As Ronson’s excellent article says “Some people think on-line harassment is no big deal because only idiots read the negative comments, whereas sensible people simply ignore them. It’s even considered somewhat shameful to search your name and seek out the negative comments. The truth is that it may be idiotic, but it’s human.”

Perhaps we have something else to learn from Monica Lewinsky. Maybe we should actually pity the sad attention seeking, self defeating narcissists who seem to fill every waking moment with finding new ways to vilify our most successful manager and some of our players. Maybe they are trying to tear down the thing they love because, quite simply they aren’t very well. Lewinsky’s life is in large part dedicated to combating on-line bullying and her words ring true when seen through the prism of our experience with the agents of abuse among our own support, “Don’t bully the bully. It doesn’t move the conversation forward. I see bullying as similar to cutting. People who cut are trying to localise their pain. I think with bullying, people are suffering for myriad reasons and are projecting it. Instead of cutting themselves, they’re cutting someone else.”

So in the words of PG Wodehouse, perhaps these people are to be pitied and not censured. Certainly I feel sorry for anyone who can’t enjoy the thrilling denouement to what has been a fascinating season. We begin today three points ahead of Man United and one behind their neighbours. Lose ground on those two and we are staring into the abyss that is fifth place. Today’s battle with Crystal Palace is far from an end of term dead rubber. We may not be fighting for our lives at the bottom nor for the main prize at the very top but there is still an enormous amount at stake today, on Thursday, and in the subsequent four matches.

Crystal Palace sit eight points outside the relegation zone and with fifteen points still on the table will not be turning up just to make up the numbers and entertain our transatlantic visitors. We face teams either battling for a European place, fighting to avoid relegation or with the liberating knowledge that it’s all over and every single match will be a tough one, starting today. The players have to contend with the baying of the psychophysically damaged as they enter the fray and so it is vital that the rest of us, you and I included, make as much noise in their defence and in positive support as we possibly can between now and the fifteenth of May. There might not be a trophy waiting for us, we may be a little spoiled by recent success, but we still have plenty to play for. Let’s see if we can’t cheer the boys over the line.

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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133 comments on “Arsenal Versus Palace: Springtime Cannibalism

  1. of course anicol we want to finish the season well, 5 games, 15pts, to be played for, but the reality is we have not been good enough this season, we have not played anywhere near our best for far too many games, and have compounded that twofold by missing too many chances and coughing up too many soft goals. 16 pts dropped in the league from winning positions, and only one come back win. Arsenal need to win all 5 remaining games, just to match last seasons pts total, scoring 15 goals and letting in 2, would give us the exact same stats for the league as last season. I don’t see it happening, mainly cos we have not at at point this season been able to put together a run of 5 league wins and only managed one run of 5 wins in a row.

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  2. by the way, LCFC can, if they win their 4 remaining games, finish only 2pts short of CFC’s points total for last season

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  3. “Handed the EPL on a plate”

    Really ?

    I did not realise that.

    At the start of the season I fancied another strong Chelsea run with Citeh on their shoulder.

    The red Mancs I had my doubts about.

    But you say our name was on the trophy – Leicester are in fact rubbish, despite having lost just 3 PL games ?

    I admit we beat them twice but for my cash LCFC have been pretty damn good. If they see it out they will be worthy champions – albeit unexpected ones.

    Is that what you really think – we threw away a trophy we should have won against 19 inferior opposition teams, we were sort of ‘entitled’ to it ?

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  4. I know Eddy – that is why we are not going to win the PL
    Clearly if we had played well in every game, scored lots of goals, not conceded silly equalisers when dominating games as today, lost just 3 games, it would be us astride the bucking PL bronco not Claudio’s boys. But it ain’t.

    So what are you going to do about it ?

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  5. What I am going to do about it is get behind the lads and wish them well for Thursday. That is my bit, probably the only useful but I have to contribute. The notion that we shall suddenly ‘rebuild’ may sound a cracking good idea – but ‘rebuild’ what ? And when ? And how ? Shall we vote on it ?

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  6. if lcfc win it, there will be no doubt they deserve to win it, and as I pointed out, they can do so with a very good pts total, I do feel that were some are saying we fecked up, is that we have dropped 16pts from winning position, we have not put a good long winning run or even unbeaten run together, we have not consistently played at our best(and if we had we are good good enough to have eclipsed lcfc’s great season), I don’t go with the notion that it was there on a plate for us, but it was there to be won, and we had our chances, many many chances, we just did not take our chances often enough in tight games, and we crumbled at the back too often.

    Over and over this season, both wenger and the players have talked about performances lacking “focus”, and us “easing off”, also not being “clinical” enough, and that is a reflection of what has happened, and is also why so many feel this was a great chance to win the title. Cos the boss and the players talks as if they believe they could have done so much better. they talk like they know they fucked it up. That is not to take away from LCFC, as even if we had done reasonably better(lets say only dropped 8pts from winning position, instead of 16, yes we would be still 5pts behind them with a game in hand), but we would be in a dog fight with LCFC for the title, as it is we are in a dog fight for 4th, and are looking like finishing behind spurs for first time in 20 years.

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  7. I admit Eddy there were times I thought we were contenders but we never, ever put a PL run together. We were top, nearly top, for a long time but without ever getting a real lead to defend or grinding out hard points when they were needed.

    I have no idea about the stats but I would guess our PL home form since the turn of the year is fucking record breaking for all the wrong reasons

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  8. anicol I will support the team to the end, and even if we sign no one this summer, I will support the team next season, etc etc.
    but we should not just glibly dismiss our failing this season, as just one of those things that can happen, or even suggest that as fans we should not concern ourselves with the problems, as its not our job, that is for the manger and players only.
    I move on to tomorrow’s u21 game, and hope for the best, then it will be the first team again on thursday, then again on sunday, etc etc etc.

    for now I’m off for a walk to clear my head and try and forget about today and the season in general, well for an hour or so, to be truthful, I’ll be lucky if I can get it out of my head for more than a few minutes. talk later.

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  9. Andy

    You’re just angry and frustrated mate…. your comments reflect how many gooners feel at the moment. Taking it out on others doesn’t do you justice mate, I’ll be cheering the boys on for the next few games too, and I’m not directing my feelings towards others.

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  10. WENGER ON REGRETS AND TAKING CHANCES

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium. Below is a transcript of his press conference:

    on the result…
    I’m very disappointed. It is one of those days where you don’t like to do a press conference after because it is not pleasant. I felt that we had possession 70 per cent of the time and we lacked a bit of accuracy with our final ball, a change of pace or have enough men forward. In the end, we got caught by a unique shot on goal by Crystal Palace. They played deep and defended well. They got us on the break and that is the story of the game. It is very frustrating.

    on leadership…
    I don’t believe that today was about leadership. It was about scoring the second goal and stopping a goal that we gave away as it was avoidable. That was the regret of the day. We knew we couldn’t get frustrated and make a defensive mistake. In the end, I must say they have the players that can take advantage of every counter attack. They are quick and powerful. When it was 1-0 they never came out really.

    on whether he is concerned about Arsenal not taking their chances…
    Yes. There is a difference. Usually we have a high number of goal chances, but I agree with you today that despite the high level of possession we had, we did not create enough chances. I think we lacked a bit of sharpness on the day and as well we had a bit of free confidence in our head after the result against West Ham where we felt we had absolutely to do a job today. In the end, we did not play with enough pace in the final third.

    on the title race…
    After today I’m not in that kind of mood to dream about the Premier League title. I’m more in a mood to repair the mental damage and prepare for the next game. It is much more about that and looking behind us because we need to play well and win games. For us, we need to fight until the end to get the place in the top four. If we can do more, we will do more but lets not dream and focus on the next game.

    on not killing teams off…
    It is to do with the Premier League as well. Like today, sometimes you have to win 1-0 and today was one of those days.

    on players lacking confidence…
    We are a team who likes to take the initiative and with the initiative you expect goals. We accept the risk of taking the game to the opponent but I think what you expect is what we are told before, that we should have more goals.

    on trying to do better than top four…
    As long as you don’t win every game, you want to add what is needed. I’m responsible for the result and I think I’m the first person who is frustrated. I can say that at the moment, we will make complete balance at the end of the season and see where we stand. At the moment it is about being together and giving our best until the end of the season.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160417/wenger-on-regrets-and-taking-chances#LcJ8XAx87x1bAWh2.99

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  11. anicol we have taken 11pts from 7 home games in 2016, and we took 20pts from 9 home games pre-new year
    so that is 31pts from a possible 48pts, we actually had a run, after our first two home game (the whu loss and lfc draw) where we only dropped 2pts(thfc) from our next 8 home league games

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  12. I would have said I am attempting to keep some sense of polite proportion NB when confronted with the incendiary suggestion that we were “handed the PL on a plate”

    One man’s meat is however another man’s bird in the bush

    I shall attempt to compose myself for the match report, up at 10.00 UK tomorrow

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  13. The run I had in mind was 10-12 PL games undefeated, as we used to manage but which seems a long way off at the moment.

    Funnily enough since the large number of injured players we were struggling with back in December/Jan have come back our form has gradually faded – not what I
    Imagined at all would happen

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  14. Nothing incendiary about it Andy…. with the Chavs, Utd and City having an off season we were left with the chance…. ok Leicester happened but just reflect for a moment on the games we’ve lost or dropped points when in reality we should have won…. the top of the EPL would look slightly different. With the team we’ve had this season that should have got us the title…. I’m not a trophy hunter as some people like to say but I would have expected us to do the double this season under the circumstances, but alas, as Shakespeare said in Hamlet!

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  15. SO?

    “Not a chance. Some of the ex-player, ex-manager pundits are the worst. It’s a disgrace the way they sit there criticising guys they used to play with, just to make a bit of an impact. I couldn’t do that.

    Not for a while. I’m 67 now. My health’s good. I still have the drive and the energy. I’ve been here more than 22 years, but I still get a buzz arriving at the training ground. I still get that tingle of excitement when the team bus draws up at an away ground before a big match. Or I see some of the young kids coming through, like the young Brazilian twins [United’s Rafael and Fabio da Silva] ”

    That was SAF, speaking to Alastair Campbell, March 2009. . Of course, claiming to be a shipyard worker, yet again, the fibber!

    Mr Wenger, does do punditry. I suspect, Mr Wenger, has the same buzz, on match days.

    So, come on, WE BELIEVE! I will not condemn a draw, the players or the management. certain player should be out-of-sight, with his goals and assists! A predator, could make the difference, IF he is a team player.

    COTG

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  16. The point is every one of those top clubs could be saying the same and including us as one of clubs having a bad year, the plate has been offered to everyone. At some point fans of all clubs will have to come to terms with the fact a team that only loses three games deserves to win the league and it’s not just a freak season. Basically clubs outside the top four are allowed to have a brilliant season and it not be an accident.
    So the we should of won it line is ballony, you know the saying If my uncle didn’t have a dick he would be my aunt.

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  17. Nice One Charlie ‏@AFC_Bam 36m36 minutes ago
    Barcelona fans calling for Arsene Wenger to be sacked. #WengerOut

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  18. Disappointing game and result today, but I enjoyed meeting some of the PA crowd.

    The toxic atmosphere at the Emirates means playing at home for us is a distinct disadvantage. Maybe we should just focus on that as it is clearly inhibiting the players

    Liked by 4 people

  19. with 5 games to go in Spain, Barcelona have seen their lead cut to goal difference over Atletico Madrid, and 1pt over Real Madrid. they have collapsed somewhat since beating AFC in the CL.

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  20. AFCPressWatch™ ‏@AFCPressWatch 2h2 hours ago
    Wenger: “I’m responsible for the result and I’m the first person who is frustrated. We will make complete balance at the end of the season.”

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  21. I’ve had a fantastic day. It was a pleasure and a priviledge meeting Mike and Kelly Wood, Passenal, Ianspace, Anicoll, Steve_I, Arsenal Andrew, Out for a corner, and Calamity Jane. This a great bunch of folk. They are positivistas. Even after a rather flat display from the team…..

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  22. I’m a firm believer that the dressing room needs a shake up every few years, that can be done 3 ways

    1. changes to the management/coaching staff
    2. addition of three or four quality first choice players all in one go
    3. a mix of the two – a new coach and addition of two quality players

    I’m of the view that having the core of the same squad listening to the same manager and coaches year after year does not work, the players in general stop listening, the coaching staff and players get too cosy with each other, its friendships instead of a clearer divide. The fear factor is gone.

    Arsene Wenger joined AFC in 1996 and brought Boro Primorac(first team coach) with him, and the only changes made to the first team coaching staff since has been due to Pat Rice(assistant manager) and Bob Wilson(goalkeeping coach) retiring in 2012 and 2003, which has seen Steve Bould made assistant manager, promoted from his role as U18’s manger, and Neil Banfield, promoted at the same time from reserve manager to be another first team coach, and Gerry Payton, who had been doing some coaching part time at the club with the youth keepers.

    For me, if you have so little change in the coaching set up, you have to really shake up the playing side of things, and need to bring in real quality, first choice players, that actually get the other players excited, ex players like wright, adams, parlour, dixon and others have all spoken about how they were so excited when Bergkamp was signed, how it gave them real hope and belief that things were really on the up, and that this was backed up again when Overmars came in.
    When Wenger first joined it gave the team a new lease of life, it was a new voice, a new way of doing things, Bergkamp was here, along with a quality core, he then added Overmars and Petit, as first choice players, and added squad men too, Manninger, Boa Morte, Upson, Wreh, Anelka. The circumstances for the double in 98 had been created.
    when that team declined Wenger had already started the rebuild, Henry, Pires and Campbell the three first choice automatic selections, Lauren, Wiltord, Kanu, Toure, the dressing on the side. the Invincibles had been created.
    the problem then was when that team declined, we had the stadium move, retirements, disloyal players, mega rich rivals, and so we were no longer buying Bergkamps, Overmars, Henry, Pires, Campbell types, and even when a young player like Cesc developed to replicate what had been done with the development of Vieira almost ten years earlier, we could neither build enough of a team around him or keep him so as to continue to build. then the period of austerity was over, and we could go out and buy big, Ozil was the first, but came alone, then alexis joined one summer later, along with the dressing, then one summer more and Cech is added, but nothing else.
    For me we really needed a summer, and still do need a summer, where we get an Ozil, Alexis and Cech all in one go, or at least two of them. it would give the team that excitement, that extra belief. And when I say we need an Ozil, Alexis, Cech all in one go, I don’t mean they have to be world class, I could just as easily say we need a PV4, a Petit and a Campbell in one go, what I’m saying is two or three players who as soon as the others see them signed know they are coming is as first choice and are likely to improve us a lot, that they are players that we need.

    you either shake up the management side or you shake up the team/squad, and going on Wenger’s time here, we aint shaking up the coaching side, so its time for Wenger to shake up the squad again and create his third great team.

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  23. those of you who attended the game, what would you estimate the attendance to be, there was 59,000 tickets sold for the game.

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  24. Some valid points Eduardo, still games to be won before judgement, but looks like some changes in something are needed this summer. As mentioned, this has been a poor 2016 so far.

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  25. just to expand on my shake up the squad post

    one thing about wenger is that down through the years here, he has never been shy to get rid of players once he decides they no longer fit in his plans, even big name players, for his first ten years he was not restricted as financially as he was for his next six or seven years, and what fucked things up was he lost loads of players he did not want to see go, and could not replace them. so now we seem to have a good solid financial base again, I would not be surprise if Wenger does dump a good view this summer, and bring in a three or four first choice players this summer.

    But I would not rule out Wenger finally taking up an offer from either PSG or Barcelona. He would be fairly certain to win the league with PSG, and would not have to worry about budgets or having to fight for “every pound”, Barcelona would be more of a risk, but he would have Messi, Suarez and Neymar, imagine how that would excite an attacking coach like Wenger.

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  26. JB™ ‏@gunnerpunner 38m38 minutes ago
    When Vardy did it against Arsenal it was ‘clever’. When he does it against West Ham it’s a dive. Inconsistent.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Despite the result, I had a lovely time today. You just can’t imagine. I met loads of people, many of whom apologized for the team’s display today. It was totally unnecessary to do so. I wanted the boys to win so badly, and I thought until the last minute they were going to. But, regardless, I still love them all. And seeing them play was a dream come true. And, as A5 says, we go again on Thursday. I’ll be there to cheer them on.

    Mike is currently researching how we can get out to Borhamwood to see the U-21s. I’m not sure we’ll see any of London that isn’t Arsenal related. (banned smiley)

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Maybe one or two of them are playing like they know they will soon be the victims of change? Is Joel injured or something, think we could have done with him yesterday?
    As for the coaching….while obviously not being privy to what goes on at the training ground, and knowing that Wenger is not one for making too many changes to backroom staff, maybe keeping Arteta in some role may freshen things up a bit…..add a different voice….have read he is massively respected by the players, has worked under managers with different tactical approaches, and a pretty decent grounding in the game?
    Don’t want to sound too knee jerk, but performances in 2016 suggests they need to improve things, and just buy buy buy is, as well know, not always the whole answer.

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  29. I agree with everything Andy Nic said and to call his calm sensible and entirely understandable comments ‘incendiary’ suggests that northbank1969 is using a different dictionary from me.
    It’s a real shame to see the way this place is going. It used to be a haven from knee jerk reactions and people treating a draw as if it was a defeat.

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  30. Steww….. I think your dictionary and your view of the comments is a bit skewed…. it was Andy who said my comment was incendiary, not vice versa.
    But as always you have to have a dig….. I see you are also getting angry and frustrated with the way things are going, you’re even frustrated with Georges blog. Shame

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  31. Oh lets not bicker among ourselves?
    Up the Arsenal.

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  32. Indeed, let’s not bicker. Let’s also not project “angry and frustrated” with the team onto people who don’t feel it. I might be a bit angry right this minute, but it sure isn’t at the team. And I’m sure I’ll get over it in a few.

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  33. New post is up

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