One of the barbed suggestions bandied about wherever Arsenal fans are scoring points off one another (and as I write this I must confess to the warm blush of shame because I seem to remember employing it myself on more than one occasion) is “If that’s how you feel then you are following the wrong sport”. The longer my dalliance with internet based support lasts the more I wonder if that pithy phrase isn’t one I ought more appropriately to have levelled at myself.
I never seem to quite be able to judge the tone, am never quite in step with my peers. Take Saturday morning’s little bit of fluff, dashed off before breakfast it was intended as a light rebuke to myself, a reminder to enjoy the game for its own sake and not allow the peripheral flim flam to obfuscate the simple pleasures which are the foundation of a supporter’s obsession. And yet several people told me they took it as a rebuke, a ‘smack on the wrist’, as if I were handing out poor marks in Arsenal class.
I misjudge, my darts fly awry.
Similarly after the dastardly Mr Moss provided us all with a suitable villain to gather around and bash like a verbal piñata I rolled up with my big stick ready to start swinging. But what did I find? Nearly everyone had erected a statue to the sainted whistle and card merchant and were genuflecting before their poor misunderstood and wrongly maligned hero.
I miss the beat, come in on the wrong note.
This latest reminder of my inability to properly bond with the gang is a mere synecdoche to the larger script of my life and I didn’t ought to be surprised when it applies to a hobby such as football. My favourite politicians are hounded, lambasted and hated by their own side as much as by their enemies, my favourite football manager is treated with revulsion by the majority of the football world and my favourite team never seems to receive recognition for its achievements, is damned with the faintest of praise and overlooked unless there is a negative tale to tell.
So what to do? I can’t alter my allegiances. Not when they arise from somewhere so deep and visceral. I can’t pretend to love the divisive politics of hate and contempt just so that the mainstream media will reflect my views. I can’t pretend that referees are just ‘failing every now and then because they have such a difficult job’ when their incompetence or poisoned hearts are on naked display week in week out, and I can’t start wearing a Liverpool scarf or Tottenham shirt just to experience the approval of sports journalists and pundits everywhere.
Now it seems I can’t even write an Arsenal blog without making it all about me when it’s supposed to be about the team and written for everyone. Or can I? I’ll tell you what, just for a minor diversion, for a ‘giggle’ as Londoners are so fond of saying, let’s see if I can get in step with the rest of world and not feel so horribly isolated and adrift. I’m going to write a proper football blog for a change.
Tonight the Emirates stadium will be packed with dozens of empty seats for the visit of Bulgarian no hopers Ludogorets. With the price of seats and the match live on BT Sports not to mention the shaky home form since the first half against Chelsea I can’t blame fans for staying at home. Even after struggling to convince against relegation fodder such as Burnley and league strugglers Swansea I can’t imagine even Wenger can pick a team unable to win and win easy tonight and not struggle against Euro group strugglers Ludogrets. Honestly scraping a lucky draw against PSG and then failing to build on a good opening against Basel when their defence was holey like a holey Swiss cheese isn’t good enough and unless something changes and changes tonight we will be lucky to scrape second place YET AGAIN in our group. The experiment with Sanchez down the middle has failed. Yes he has scored a few but he has played so far out of position for most of the games that even Theo Walcott found himself further forward twice and scored where a centre forward ought to of been. For that reason I cannot see why Wenger won’t start Lucas Perez tonight. I mean to say, why sign a centre forward then play a winger down the middle? We needed a replacement for Giroud who is slow and simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We did not need to move Sanchez around he was doing just fine where he was. It is like Arshavin and Podolski all over again. Monreal had an absolute nightmare on Saturday against a complete unknown and it was only bringing on Gibbs that saved us from further embarrassment down that side. For this reason I believe it is time for Gibbs to get his chance. The boy has done nothing wrong and MUST start tonight. I saw the Ox on Sky and it is obvious he is not happy. Why spend so much money on a player and not play him? It is Perez all over again. He must be given his chance. I would play him on the wing instead of Theo who missed three sitters on Saturday. Don’t let a couple of tap in goals fool you he is not Arsenal quality and never has been it is like Aliadiare all over again so for that reason Ox MUST start tonight. Xhaka has scored a couple of good goals but on Saturday showed his true colours and is not to be trusted in our midfield. Because Wenger failed to strengthen in that area again we have no choice but to start Elneny even though it is obvious Wenger doesn’t trust him or if he did he would of picked him more and anyway he will go the the cup of Africa Nationals soon anyway. My team would be Cech Bellerin Gibbs Mustafi Kos Elneny Santi Ozil Sanchez Perez Ox but I know Wenger will play the midget Colombian in goals no matter what the fans want but I cannot see how there can be any other changes from my line up there. This is a MUST WIN game. We deserve a better performance than which we have lately been seeing but honestly three points will do no matter how we get them. In fact three points is all that matters. I can’t see us losing to a bunch of Balkan part timers who no one has ever heard of but this is Arsenal and we only do things the hard way don’t we?