It’s been an odd couple of days over here in America (land of the free, home of the brave, keep your hands off of my stack, Jack) and I suspect that it’s going to be an odd couple of, erm, well, things are going to be weird for some time. Every day that the stock market contracts I lose more and more of my retirement and the day where I can give up and go raise sheep with Wenger in the Alsace moves further into some hazy future. I don’t even look at my retirement plan any more, what’s the point?
Add in that the house I bought isn’t worth the hill of beans that I paid for it — and its viability as the main means for putting my daughter through college has evaporated — and the future isn’t looking so good. Yet somehow, I’m sanguine about all of this. I think it has to do with the fact that in the face of stark adversity in the past I have always succeeded. That no matter how bad it gets I have the resources within me to overcome and provide for my family. In the words of FDR, in the face of a similar economic crisis, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
All this begs the question, what the hell happened to Kolo Toure? And, maybe more importantly, what the hell is going on at Arsenal that we have now lost three very solid defenders (Campbell, Senderos, and Toure) to three similar existential crises?
As you know by now, Kolo has admitted that he was afraid to play Hull saying just outright “I was scared to play the game.” He’s tried to recontextualize his fear today saying that what he meant to say was that the fear was generated by his knowledge that people have a high expectation from the team when facing an opponent such as Hull. No shit, Sherlock. What happened, did he just start paying attention to the world around him? Fans, managers, and players alike have had the expectation that Arsenal will get at least a draw and sometimes expect wins for, well, since 1886. For Christ’s sake Toure was part of the Invincibles! I can’t imagine that the expectations players feel today are anywhere near the expectations that that squad felt. So, why now, and why such a complete breakdown? I don’t know and we probably never will know, just like we were never told why Sol Campbell bogged off to Holland after shipping three goals, or what happened to Senderos after his gaffe let in the Liverpool goal that saw us out of the Champions League last year. It’s just something that’s happened and if history repeats itself, it’s the end of the line for Toure. Which is really, really sad.
All this means that I have to admit that I had it wrong yesterday. I thought it was Gallas who had the fear, but it turns out that it was Toure. Once again, I’m left apologizing to William Gallas because now we all know that it wasn’t him who was afraid to mark Daniel Cousins, it was Toure.
And of course, in that context it makes sense that Arsene Wenger would say that he’s not punishing anyone (Kolo) with today’s substitutions, or that he feels we are “too short” all over the pitch. Clearly with Kolo’s fragile emotional state, the boss cannot play him, but neither does he feel he can call him crap. Thus, he says “I’m not punishing you, I’m just bringing in a taller player for this match because with Alex Song injured we need some height.” And then, as if to shore Toure up even further, Wenger reminds everyone of the Invincibles (which Toure was a part of) and says that this team could become invincibles too.
So, today I fully expect to see Arsenal field a back four of Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, and Clichy with the outside chance that Clichy will be dropped in favor of Silvestre; in the midfield then I expect Eboue, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, with Theo coming off the bench in the 70th minute; and up front, it will be Adebayor and Bendtner, with the boss dropping van Persie because he isn’t punishing him for being lazy and woefully profligate against Hull but instead because he’s shorter than Bendtner.
The worst part of all this is that this crisis is giving our opponents hope that they get three points even though they lost their best player in Ricardo Quaresma in the off season. I expect an open and attacking game, with Porto playing a 4-3-3 and giving Arsenal plenty of room to create opportunities. I also expect Arsenal to show why they are a top four club in one of the hardest leagues in the world: because unlike Kolo, I fear no club, not even the Portugeuse champs.