Archive for October 5th, 2008


All bets are off

Can someone explain to me, how a team that lost 2-1 to Wigan last week, WIGAN, is currently beating a “top four” club like Liverpool 2-0 at half time? Or how a recently promoted team, one that was promoted via winning the playoffs not by dint of being the best team in the Championship but by the luck of winning a playoff game, can someone please, for the love of God explain to me how that club is tearing up the league table. So much so that if they beat Tottenham today (at Wet Fart Lane!!!) they will leapfrog into 3rd place in the league table? Or how about the aforementioned Tottenham, down at the bottom of the table, last place? No one, not one single soul, would have seriously predicted Tottenham in last place even in as few a games as we have played so far in this season.

And that’s surely part of it. As we head into the international break most teams will have played only 7 of the requisite 38 games. There are 31 games to go, and surely Man U will not be sitting in 6th place at the end of those 31 games, right? Because we all see the quality that that team posses.

The other part of the equation here is that the league is simply insane. A combination of huge money, and hubris, and destabilization of other clubs has lead us all to this point. When you have a multi-billionaire who is willing to pay $40m for a player like Sean Wright-Phillips sit him on the bench for three years and then let him go for less than half of what he paid for him the you have a tremendous destabilizing force in the league. Tottenham too were unsettled this year when both Liverpool and Man U raided them for their crown jewels and they then made the double mistake of undervaluing (if it’s possible) players like Malbranque and Defoe and letting them go, leaving them in last place and losing to newly promoted Hull.

The point of all this (as I watch Liverpool come back from two goals down to take the lead 3-2) is that this season has been unpredictable to say the least. Certainly it is early, I conceded that point at the outset. With only 7 games played it’s near impossible to say you see a trend emerging from any teams (apart from Chelsea who are winning everything and Tottenham who are shit) and even more impossible to say you see any trends at the Arsenal.

Yet, when I woke up this morning, the Arse-o-sphere was a light with hand wringing and corpse kicking and Wenger-blaming. Denilson is woeful read some of the same people who hated Flamini last year and yet wish he were with us this year. We’re missing Hleb read others: fuck that, the last thing we need is a guy who demanded a central attacking role and yet only shot (not on goal but in total) 25 times a season — that’s only 4 shots more than Gael Clichy. No, Hleb was a total waste of time and space.

Irregardless, we cannot look back at the past and say “well if we only had so and so, we’d be winning!” To paraphrase Rick Pitino: Thierry Henry is not walking through that door, folks. Denis Bergkamp is not walking through that door. Patrick Vieira is not walking through that door. We, as fans, need to get behind the team we have, after all this is a team that went to Sunderland and tried to get all three points. Yes, they did give away the lead on a once in a lifetime goal from a player who’s only scored 3 EPL goals in his entire career but they also gutted it out and came back to secure the draw. How are you not proud of that?

And for anyone to say that they went in there to get a draw? Yes, it was certainly a defensive tactic when at 0-0 Wenger withdrew Walcott and Denilson and put in Bendtner and Nasri; two of our best defensive players (eye roll). No, Wenger went to Sunderland to get all three points.

As for the depth argument, which I see all the time in the comments here, I highly doubt we’re going to see much movement in January. I could pull out a thousand quotes that show the boss thinks we have the quality and depth already at the club. Baring injury or some freak accident like “Gareth Barry allowed to leave for $1m but only to Arsenal” I’d be surprised by any moves in January. We’re stuck with what we have, kids, you’d better get used to that idea.

Does that mean that Arsenal are no longer title contenders, that we’re not “getting our trophy back” as some like to think and say? For Christ’s sake, we’re only 7 games in. Does anyone actually believe that Hull City are going to stay in 4th place? And if Hull finish 4th and Arsenal finish 5th? Well, then that just proves my second point, doesn’t it?

So far, this has been one crazy start to the season and I only wish that Arsenal supporters could stop looking at the quality of a club like Man U for a second and start respecting the quality of this team: the boss certainly does.

I take solace in the fact that while Arsenal have basically played one good match followed by one poor match each of the poor matches have gotten progressively better: lose 1-0 to Fulham, 2-1 to Hull, and now 1-1 to Sunderland. I bet the next game they play poorly in we’ll get a 2-1 win. According to my calculations… let’s see we’ll beat Everton 3-0 and then get a 2-1 away win to Fener.

That’s not hard is it?

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October 2008