Rue Brittania

Despite the fact that King George the IV gave me back my hour (you can set your clocks back America!) I’m still finding it tough to get going this morning because the whole scene yesterday still haunts me.

Three Arsenal supporters, up at 8am, in a pub that’s playing the Arsenal match, the Chelsea match, and the Man U match. Chelsea are sticking in eleventy-hundred goals (against a team that we could barely manage a draw) and their supporters are whopping it up big time.  Man U are getting polite cheers from the prawn sandwich brigade down at the other end of the bar as they go up 4-1. And here are the three moribund Arsenal supporters watching what could easily be the worst match I have ever seen Arsenal play. As Rory Delap polishes his ball in preparation of the very first long throw, I turn to T-Town Alex and with a cheshire grin say “did you know Stoke have scored 5 of their eleven goals this season on throw ins?” As the ball is rocketed straight at the goal I think, “oh crap” and sure enough there’s Kolo being held by Fuller (well they are sort of holding each other) and a little shove and Fuller gets some stubble on the ball and, of course, Almunia is frozen as the ball goes into the net. “Ok, 6 of 12.”

And from there it only gets worse: they score a second (even uglier goal) as Almunia leaps out of the way of Olofinjana as he’s stumbling into the goal, Adebayor is taken off injured after Shawcross tackled him from behind (studs up, right on the back of his ankle), van Persie is rightly sent off for a moment of sheer lunacy sparked by frustration and indiscipline, and then Theo is stretchered off with a shoulder injury he got from Stoke’s 15th late and dangerous tackle of the speedy youngster.

2 goals, 2 Arsenal injuries and 3 points; looks like Stoke got what they wanted.

All of Arsenaldom would be well within their rights to complain about the way that Stoke City played if only some semblance of an Arsenal squad had showed up yesterday. Instead, this Arsenal team played for a mere 10 minutes in the first half and 4 minutes at the end of the second half. Apart from those 14 minutes, this squad looked like they just didn’t care. Stoke beat them to every ball, closed space beautifully, and never let Arsenal get off a real shot. And so, my complaint about the overly physical nature of this Stoke team sounds hollow, even to me.

The result is that Arsenal drop to 4th place (gripping it ever so tentatively by dint of goal differential) and so many of us are asking “what now?” For me that’s the real frustration, what can I do? (I already washed the losing off all my shirts!)

What can I do? Complain that Arsene hasn’t bought anyone? What good will that do? There are two full months before the January transfer window opens and Arsenal have to face every single one of the top teams in that time frame. By the time the window opens back up this Arsenal team, if they have shown us what they are made of over this last week, could easily be fighting for a place in the middle of the table.*

No, the course of this season and (I think) the rest of Arsene’s career has been set. Arsene Wenger set out this season to revolutionize English football: he won with a big, bruising, Arsenal team and now he wants the beautiful game to come to England and he feels he’s the one who can do it. If you take into account the whole of his summer remarks and add in his backhanded compliment yesterday

People who love the traditional English game must be happy because they got what they like today. It was a traditional game with a lot of fight and commitment. At the end of the day Stoke deserved to win the game.

And his now public sparring with William Gallas over whether Arsenal should win ugly with Gallas saying:

Maybe we give too great importance on playing beautiful football… But I think our main failing is that we are not always clear in our minds.

And Arsene’s reply

We went to Fenerbahce, who had never lost a Champions League game at home, with a midfield of Under-21 players…. You listen to the clubs in Italy and in France and find that Arsenal is their model…

And his coup d’grace:

We have to be strong enough to keep on with the way we play and we can win the Premier League and the Champions League. I am confident because we have a very strong, united spirit and we want to do well.

Add it up… Wenger’s going to keep doing this thing the way he wants and the way he wants is to remake English football in his image. Call it his hubris, call it his pigheadedness, call it syphilis induced madness (as my friend Curtis the Everton supporter would say), call it what you will but as long as Arsene is manager, he’s going to do it his way.

So, Wenger’s going to stick to his plan; he’s going to continue playing beautiful football and he’s going to try to navigate through the muddied battlefields of the next two months. Love it or hate it, that’s what I think we’re going to have to deal with. Complaining that Diaby isn’t good enough, that Denilson doesn’t belong on the right, that Almunia is a joke, that van Persie or Adebayor aren’t good enough, and that the defense can’t clear a ball isn’t going to accomplish anything other than maybe make us all feel slightly better. Have at them if you must I know it makes me feel better some times.

But this is the club we love, right? No one is seriously going to call for Wenger’s resignation, right? So, let’s cheer them on and hope they get better and Learn from their Mistakes ™.

What else are you going to do?  Root for Chelsea?

*I don’t say that lightly, mind you. Arsenal have let in 12 goals in 11 games and at that pace are set to let in 41 goals all season.  That means that defensively, Arsenal would be among the middle of the pack clubs and not a top club like Chelsea who are on course to let in a mere 14.


8 Responses to “Rue Brittania”

  1. 1 T-town Alex
    November 2, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Next week’s game will say a lot about the mental and emotional toughness of our squad. The one silver lining I can find about the Stoke game is that they scored both goals on the same stupid highschool trick play. I can’t believe it. I like to think that this will not happen every week, but somehow it does: We take in a once-in-a-lifetime goal against Hull, 2 once-in-a-lifetime goals against Spurs, 2 stupid 6-in-12-lifetimes goals against Stoke. Maybe it’s just bad luck. We played all these games pretty hard. Maybe it’s the Flamini trade that has cursed this team….. IT’S THE CURSE OF THE FLAMBINO!

  2. November 2, 2008 at 9:42 am

    That’s what I’m talking about!

    There’s a run of 4 home games coming up, good time to get our heads on straight.

  3. November 2, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Oh hey, I’m watching Notlob and Citeh and it looked like Notlob scored an offside goal, if your rule about reviewing plays were allowed it might have been ruled out.

    T-Town Alex, I’m liking your review plan more and more every time I think about it.

    I wish I could have a kick around today but I’d probably just hurt my hamstring more.

  4. 4 Ameze
    November 2, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Well said Timothy, inspight of all the negative results we are getting there’s really nothing we can do for now other than for us to get behinde our team and supporting them all the way hoping we can improve on our play and at least pray for some luck bcos we are in dying need of it. So i’m with you all the way on this one. january can’t come soon enough; i hope by then Arsene realizes his arrogance & brings in some much needed quality, untill then let’s keep ”gunning” for glory

  5. November 2, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I’m trying to get my brain around who Arsene will bring in in January: it’s not like 6’4″ defenders are lying around in stacks waiting for Arsene to pick up a cord of them.

    I think we’re going to have to pluck someone from a “lower” team maybe a huge ugly Englishman like Gary Cahill?

    But then what about midfield? Appiah is still available… again, what about an Englishman? I don’t know.

    LOL.. of course that assumes that Arsene really does have money to spend and that he really has the will to spend it.

    I guess we’ll just wait to find out eh?

  6. 6 Ameze
    November 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I guess we will have to wait and see what the new year brings isn’t it funny that we always seem to be linked to so many players and still end up signing none of them there has to be something wrong somewhere these days i just ignor the rumors cos they just raise our hopes & then end up crushing them oh my God what a circus!

  7. 7 Keith Barham
    November 2, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for the apt caption of RvP’s photo. I am still amazed by his decision yesterday.

    As far as player acquisitions in January? No one. How about that? That’s likely what the side will end up with. At least no one who will move into the XI.

  8. November 3, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Yeah, Keith, I think you’re right.

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