85 Comments

Arsenal Versus West Brom: As You Like It

I’ve always known I was special. If I wasn’t I would probably only have suspected it rather than being so certain. This way of seeing oneself in the world is in all likelihood a common ignis fatuus – I very much doubt I’m the only one so thoroughly deluded. There are occasions however when my dissonant personality is thrust so far to the fore that I realise I am indeed something of, as we used to say at school, a case.

Take this football supporting malarkey. I have an interest in Arsenal football club. Not a financial interest you understand, there is no danger of me not making this month’s rent if stocks in AFC take a tumble in Tokyo, lurch in Lisbon or nose dive in New York – not a bit of it. My interest is, in all honesty, hypothetical. I have chosen to support this one particular team over all others and as such have decided, in my brain through the free will of which I am capable, that I will be happy if this group of footballers play well and ecstatic if they win. I will likewise be dispirited at missing out on that chance of fleeting vicarious happiness in someone else’s achievements should they lose. If they draw, then the waters are somewhat muddier and the context of the result is all.

With the exception of Jose Mourinho’s spectacular fall from grace I don’t have even this tenuous connection to any other Premier League club and being a social animal I just naturally assume that most if not all of my peers feel the same.

It appears I have been deluding myself on this point and that I am indeed, as I have always suspected therefore, special. Lots and lots and lots of my fellow Arsenal fans are, it seems, deeply invested in the outcomes of competitions and in the results of football teams that are not of any interest to Arsenal itself.

I read just the other day of this one chap who has the overwhelming good fortune to have a ticket for tonight’s match and the time and ability to travel to the stadium but does not want to go. Not because he’s undergone a Damascene revelation and tumbled to the truth. He hasn’t suddenly realised how utterly foolish he’s been, staking his happiness and well being on the actions of a group of professional footballers who know nothing of his existence. No, nothing so extreme; this individual didn’t want to go to see his favourite football team take on the chaps from West Bromwich because, and you may wish, if you aren’t already, to sit down at this point – Tottenham won four nil on Monday evening.

This would have raised an eyebrow and no more if the person concerned were in a minority of one. If he were merely a gibbering loon, sadly tipped over the edge by some family tragedy or had suffered a terrible mental breakdown but there are no end of others equally appalled by the prospect of someone other than Arsenal winning something.

I feel quite lonely being special and I hope you’ll tell me I am in fact not. I hope you too see the winners of the FA, League, and European cups as of much interest as I do. Which is of course none whatsoever. We can now, in all probability, add the league title to that list which is of course a shame but whoever wins it doesn’t matter any more, because it doesn’t involve us. How can you not want to go and watch the likes of Sanchez, Coquelin, Ozil and Ramsey just because two teams you don’t care about are contesting a trophy in which your team is no longer competing? It is bizarre and beyond the meagre resources of my intellect to fathom.

I start each season assuming we’ll win every competition in which our beloved club is eligible to compete. It’s a happy and comfortable illusion shattered by our first cup exit which, if it’s the League Cup, doesn’t cause me to shed too many tears. As time goes on, in common with nearly every other team in the country, the list of potential achievements is usually whittled down to the highest mathematically reachable league position.

This isn’t much of a revelation, it’s a simple fact which accompanies supporting a football team. If you are lucky enough to have chosen a side which ended up being managed by Arsène Wenger the list always includes entry into the following season’s Champion’s League. This is an unbelievable achievement and one for which I’m eternally grateful but one which doesn’t just happen because the planets align in a certain way. It happens year on year as the result of the amalgamation of hard work and talent all steered by the great man himself.

This season hasn’t yet come down to playing for the highest possible league position. This season still holds the remotest, vanishingly small possibility of winning the title but realistically the best we can hope for is qualification into the Champion’s League. The only other teams who’s results should hold any interest for us therefore are the two massive spending super rich Manchester clubs with whom we are locked in mortal combat for that precious top four finish.

Others may deride the importance of a Champions League qualifying place as if it is somehow a bone thrown to those not good enough for the real prizes. The reason they deliberately downplay such a valued and sought after achievement is of course because they are unhappy individuals who would decry any success if it fell below the standards they imagine their chosen team deserves. These people are special in a different way.

But I’m not here to criticise such people for their reactions to irrelevant news. If people feel like crying and screaming because Spurs won a football match that is their look out. I’m still reeling from news of Victoria Wood’s death which has devastated me far more than any football match and I never met the woman nor did she suspect my existence. We are irrational creatures – let’s face it we wouldn’t get so angry with each other about a football team otherwise would we?

Arsenal will still be here next season, and thanks to the tireless work of people like Arsène Wenger the club will in all likelihood be here long after I’m gone. Players will come and go and they will all try their best for us and sometimes succeed and sometimes not. They will certainly care more and try harder for the club than any fan ever will. It is, after all, their careers, their personal and professional pride at stake and not just a bruised ego because the team your workmate or school friend supports had a better season than you.

As far as 2015/16 is concerned, there is still a job to be done, still matches still to be played. Nothing is yet certain, nothing can be taken for granted. I intend to carry on enjoying the season today and for the next few weeks just as much as I enjoyed the charity shield back in August when the whole thing started. Enjoying the spectacle is of course all any of us can hope to do. Nothing I nor any other fan says will have the slightest impact on managerial nor boardroom decisions and that is absolutely how it should be. You wouldn’t have told Shakespeare how to write and you don’t tell Arsène Wenger how to manage. If you are so special that King Lear simply isn’t good enough for you, then stop watching it, leave the theatre and let the rest of us enjoy the show.

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.

Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

85 comments on “Arsenal Versus West Brom: As You Like It

  1. 70 minutes – Ramsey over the top, after a great flowing move

    Like

  2. you know something that I have not heard from the Arsenal crowd tonight, moans and groans at misplaced passes or missed chances, I do wonder why that is, surely its not cos the whingers “boycotted” the game

    Liked by 3 people

  3. 72 minutes – WBA corner, Cech blocked off from the ball, Alexis called for a foul and from the free kick, Elneny gets kneed in the ribs, no foul given.

    Like

  4. 81 minutes – Coquelin on for iwobi

    Like

  5. 85 minutes – Campbell and Walcott on for Ozil and Alexis

    Like

  6. 86 minutes – Campbell shoots a couple of feet wide

    Like

  7. Fucking love this team.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. 87 minutes – some incredible little passing moves, very unlucky not to score, one shot hit the keeper in the face

    Like

  9. Excellent Steww. That’s how I like it.

    Like

  10. stadium fucking nearly empty

    Like

  11. FT: Arsenal 2-0 WBA

    Totally deserved win, dominated the game, played some excellent football, Alexis on fire the first half, Ozil call throughout, Iwobi very good in second half, Ramsey and Elneny in complete control of the midfield, defense rarely troubled, Bellerin with several fine forays into attack. Giroud battled and unlucky near the end not to break his goal drought

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mertersaker makes a significant difference. Winning almost all aerial balls, heading forward to our midfield.

    Iwobi, excellent. I wish this team would take more shots….

    Let’s hope this gives us the boost to finish on a high…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Good performance, a clean win, a pity about the 3rd, 4th and 5th goals, very little from the Baggies

    Liked by 1 person

  14. 4 games to go, Arsenal third, 5 off 2nd, and 2 above 4th, with a 4pt gap to 5th

    Like

  15. Arsenal with games to come v 18th place Sunderland(A), 17th place Norwich(H), 4th place Man City(A) and 20th place Aston Villa(H)

    for me the toughest game of that lot is sunderland away on sunday

    Like

  16. Jon Toral’s season is over after he picked up a hamstring injury, he has scored 8 goals in 38 games for Birmingham. He is likely to get a chance at Arsenal in pre-season to stake a claim for a spot in the first team squad for next season

    Like

  17. Darren ‏@DazzaAFC_ 32m32 minutes ago
    There’s a bloke standing by the Tony Adams statue shouting at people coming out the ground “I bin ere for 15 minutes blud! U all late, fam!”

    ha ha ha ha

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I thought this was a great performance in terms of general play, wb werent just on the beach and I thought they played well too. I dont even think we lacked the killer touch tonight, it was more about rub of the green, the ball bouncing right or the ref giving us a pen or two. junior redknap said he thoughtt the game was flat, well if that was flat give me flat games every week it was certainly better than his rubber faced old ever managed.
    Shame we’re in third place and the turnout was so poor. Sunderland have a great football history (so called big club) but are fighting relegation every season yet watch their stadium fill to the rafters sunday sometimes I am truly embarressed by our support.

    Liked by 6 people

  19. Mehreen Ali‏@mehrumezza
    Can the people who boycotted today do the same for every Arsenal game for the foreseeable future? Clearly, we have identified the problem.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Wenger says gibbs has a short term back injury
    he also said Bellerin is a good example for Iwobi, as AI is in the same position as Bellerin was this time last season, and that Bellerin has added consistency this season

    Like

  21. 500 games wn out of about 908 games in the prem so far?

    about 54% we need to improve going forward and we will… i am guessing the last 10 yrs would not have been as good as the first 10 in terms of win percent. the refs also contributing their bad quota

    Like

  22. More like it, some great passing.
    Hopefully a strong finish to the season.
    All those days off ….allegedly leaked to the media by a senior player…has clearly done them some good.
    Great to see Per back, Gabriel and Chambers can develop, but BFG and Kos are great to have when the pressure is on.
    good couple of days, seeing ELO and an Arsenal win!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. AFCPressWatch™ ‏@AFCPressWatch 1h1 hour ago
    Ramsey completed the most tackles vs WBA.(7/8). Monreal, the most intercepts(5). Elneny, the most recoveries (8). BFG, the most clearances.👍

    Liked by 3 people

  24. WENGER ON VICTORY, ALEXIS, BELLERIN

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Thursday night.
    Here’s a transcript of what the manager said:

    on the win…
    I believe we dominated from the start to the last minute, in fact what we did against Crystal Palace. Overall I believe the quality of our game was very good. Maybe, we could have scored more goals. That is the only thing you could say tonight. We didn’t concede and couldn’t finish the game off the way we wanted.

    on Iwobi…
    He is improving game after game because he is just coming in. That is another positive from the season. He has shown quality game after game and he is surprising. His consistency is surprising, because he has only played youth football and suddenly he plays at that pace. I’m a bit cautious with him sometimes, but overall what he produces is a football player.

    on Alexis…
    He had a top quality first half and I think he dropped a bit in the second half physically. Overall, his contribution was vital today.

    on the importance of the win…
    You look at the time like us, every point is important at the moment. I think we are under permanent pressure in every single game so it is important to have the lead and focus on the way we want to play football.

    on the early goal…
    Ideally, you want to always score early goals but the Premier League is the Premier League and it is difficult for everyone at the top of the table. There are top, top teams behind us, and because Leicester City is in front, everyone thinks that we should have done it. Yes okay, you can see that for any other team. Leicester were bottom of the table last year, so all the 19 teams can say it.

    on home matches at Emirates Stadium…
    If you love football, you go out there and I think you see quality football. That’s what we try to give to our people. It was a special night as well, Thursday night, and I don’t know if you are intelligent enough, nor am I, to detect exactly why everybody that did not turn up tonight did not turn up.

    on the game clashing with Masterchef…
    That’s a good reason maybe [for the game not selling out]!

    on if he’s looking over his shoulder or looking above…
    We want to finish as high as possible. You never know what happens in front of you. There can still be twists and turns but we want to win our games. We came out of West Ham and Crystal Palace thinking we had produced the quality and didn’t get the points. If you look at our last five games, we won at Everton, we won against Watford, we had two draws and we won today. The regret we have is being in the lead against West Ham and being in the lead against Crystal Palace and not getting the points. I don’t know where we’ll finish but we have to give everything in every game. We go to Sunderland, Sunderland fight not to go down. That will be a battle and we have to prepare for that.

    on Kieran Gibbs’ absence from the squad…
    [He had] a back problem. It looks short term. He had a training session today.

    on Giroud’s lack of goals…
    Of course it’s affecting him. Tonight he hit the head of the keeper and at the moment he looks for a goal.

    on Bellerin’s inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year…
    He was like Iwobi last year, that means he came into the squad and continued to develop. For Iwobi that’s a good way to follow, to move even a step up next season. The positive of the season is that Hector has been consistent. He was outstanding in the first half as well.

    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/20160421/wenger-on-victory-alexis-bellerin?#7Xpi5p2tR1CMLCCa.99

    Like

  25. That was great; the whingers should definitely stay away more often because the atmosphere was much better tonight than it has been for a while – a small, but select crowd. The players seemed to play with more freedom and there was more creativity and goal mouth action than we’ve seen for a while as well.

    We were really unlucky not to score more than 2 goals, and I see the penalty embargo continues apace. Strange how a shove on a WBA player = a free kick, but the same on an AFC player in the box does not = a penalty!

    I have to comment on the banner wankers – they really pissed me off tonight. The team played well and even though it may be too little, too late for this season, there were definite signs of our balance and mojo coming back. At the end of the match Hector and Per came over to applaud the fans in the area where I was sitting only to be met by a ‘time for a change’ banner from a handful of malcontents. I have to agree with them though, it is time for a change. Time for people who do not want to support the team to fuck off and ‘support’ someone else. They are dragging us down and ‘we don’t need their sort around here’

    Also as I was leaving the ground, I was surprised (not) to hear some people suggesting that Giroud was ‘shit’ tonight? I don’t know what game they were watching. First half he was not getting much change out of the WBA CB’s who were pulling and shoving him all over the place with not much being called by the referee. But second half, he seemed to get the measure of them and was much more effective at winning and holding up the ball up front. He was also unlucky not to score a couple of times. I don’t know what some people expect sometimes!

    Liked by 8 people

  26. Arsenal GF 58 – GA 34
    Leicester City GF 59 – GA 33

    One team is a basketcase and one team is the greatest in 30 years.

    Now let’s look at how the media interpert this, and bearing in mind Arsenal have yet to ‘murder’ (play) Villa at home.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. What Passenal said. All of it. The crowd may have been small but they were right behind the team. The banner wankers were sat right below me. Atention seeking arseholes. If only I’d had something to throw…

    Liked by 4 people

  28. so a Thursday night fixture, tube restrictions, and by all reports still a bigger crowd(40K – 45K) than the capacity was at Highbury(38K) after it became all seater, that must have really pissed off those AAA/WOB who are so found of talking about the good old days of real supporters at Highbury.

    As I said earlier, watching it on screen, it very much appeared that what the missing 15K – 20K included was all those regulars who moan and whinge at every little mistake, misplaced pass, or missed chance, and how refreshing it was to not have the players worried about the crowds reaction.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Great read, Stew – a special read, indeed!

    The Arsenal support these days is so flakey, so unreliable, conditional, patchy and all round ‘iffy’ that quite frankly they deserve anything they end up getting. If it’s first, second, third or fourth place in the league I really don’t care how it makes them feel and if it makes more of them stay away so the genuine fans can get back into the ground, all well and good.

    Liked by 4 people

  30. maybe they should just give up the tikets so that others more willing and supportive can scoop them up… there is a waiting list afterall.

    Liked by 6 people

  31. New post up !!

    Like

Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: