“What was it like watching Arsenal, grandpa?”

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool

Oh, ho, whoa! Another evening of football that encapsulated everything you need to know about Wenger’s latest, and possibly last, Arsenal side. Put that on a DVD and show the grandchildren.

“This is how we were, kiddo”.

“Wow, grandpa, look at that wave of attacking, that little dynamo at number ten. That blunderbuss up front, he’s actually pretty dangerous, isn’t he? He’s like a steam train! And how many goals did Walcott score? That one was an exocet. Playing like that you must have rolled over all-comers.”

“But eek! Why did Sagna fall over? Was that Belgian man chasing his tail? Is this how you always used to ‘clear’ your lines? Why is the goalie out his goal? Why has he done a shimmy in the box? That tall man – why has he passed straight to the opposition? Why did they let that man run through them? Who’s the fella at left-back spinning round in circles?”

“This is how it was, son, this is how it was. Happy days.”

Loads to admire, loads to make you perspire. Grit and power and chances aplenty up front, but “keystone cops” at the back. Moments of breathtaking attacking prowess living cheek by jowl with kamikaze, comical defending. This is our calling card.

Yes, this is Arsenal. Somewhere, hidden away in there, there must be the kernel of a side with more balance than this one has.

Ten glorious minutes

In a season dotted with more than its fair share of lacklustre moments and peppered by curiously slow build-up play, the quick-fire four-goal salvo at the beginning of the second half on Wednesday was like music to my ears. So much so that I think I might just bundle the memory up and replay it in my head at whatever point now suits me. I could press play during a quiet patch in a future game to cheer me up, or at work to liven up a dull stretch of breadwinning.

But obviously, if I don’t write those moments down to preserve them, I’m going to forget them in all their detail. I can barely remember the scores of games within a few months and it would sadden me if, in future times, these explosive six-hundred seconds had disappeared off into the ether. So here goes. I should add that this is how I end up remembering all goals.

Giroud, 47

OK, there’s a corner at our end, over to my right. It looks like it might be Theo taking it. I’m craning my neck. “Too bloody low, Theo”, wails my brother in frustration, and then the ball flashes into the net and we’re all cheering. “Top work, Theo” he adds. Who scored it, I ask myself? Might have been Giroud. Nifty move at the near post? It was a bit of a blur.

Cazorla, 53

I’m still a bit agitated, so imagine my surprise when whoosh! Cazorla back-heels it in. My recollection of how he came to be in a position to back-heel the goal is blurred. Anyway, I cheer and as I write this I’m going to look at the goal (I’ve not seen them since).

[looks at goal]

How exactly do I not have that carved into my memory? I wasn’t looking at my phone, given than Vodafone is a matchday deathzone. So it was Podolski to Giroud, who arcs a belter back to Der Hammer, then Cazorla does some magic. Now that I’ve had my memory jogged, I do remember that glorious dinked pass from Giroud. Nice.

Walcott, 54

This I do remember. Podolski thunders down the left wing (I don’t have him down as a thunderer, but by god he was thundering), crosses it on a plate with tassels on for Theo, who obliges. I remember every bit of this. We are high-fouring now.

Giroud, 57

Replace Theo with Giroud and you’ve got the fourth goal, at least that’s how I remember it, or don’t remember it. I mean come on, give me a break, I was a bit befuddled by this point. Four goals in ten minutes – I’m not used to it.

I’ve just seen it again and it wasn’t like that, not exactly. The Podolski bit was, but it was near post not far. Ah well.

That’s that then – I’m glad I have it lasered into the bonce with such clarity. Ten lovely minutes. When you’re at the ground they go by in a blur and you remember them in a blur. At least, I do.

Thank heavens for Arsenal Player. And real match reports. And people who can actually remember live football.

Half an Arsenal gives Wenger a whole headache

It’s a case of Like, Yikes! as another spooky tour through the emotions concludes in a dilapidated mansion of despondency. Pick your own baddy dressed up as a pretend ghoul and you can write the ending yourself.

This blog has gone semi-fallow, a little like the team I love, but can you blame me? I’m fairly sure I mentioned, earlier this season, that I was determined not to be miserable, so to find the quote I searched for the word ‘miserable’ on the blog and found plenty of examples going back further than I would care to say (and then I gave up looking, as naturally it made me more miserable). It either tells you something about the infinite capacity this side has to keep on making the same errors, or it indicates my mental state. Or both, I suppose. One perhaps brought on by the other. (And I am not suggesting that Arsenal are making errors because I am miserable – though if it were true, at least we’d have something to work on).

Our latest footballing tic seems to involve only playing for half a match, which is almost more frustrating than not playing at all. Because just when you’re about to explode with rage and call for everyone’s severed heads on a dish, the team magically performs a miraculous volte face and starts pressing, passing, making runs, defending more vigorously, and generally doing what deep down you know it can do. And against Chelsea, we had them on the rack at the end. On the rack! Had we possessed someone we could bring off the bench who was more effective than Andrei Arshavin – that’s to say, someone with feet and legs – we may have snatched a draw. And yet in the first half we were barely a football team.

City at home, Swansea at home, Chelsea away – three decent halves, three poor ones, why do we do it to ourselves? And that’s only this week.

Ultimately, it might well be that Wenger no longer has the capacity to coax this side to be the one that he – and of course we – would dearly want it to be. It’s quite possible that a couple of new players wouldn’t make much difference, at this stage.

But I am parroting what everyone else has pointed out by saying that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a couple of judicious signings could make enough of a difference to patch the side up until May, to plug a few gaps, to give everyone a boost. Look how they played in the last two second halves and you will be reminded that amid the maddening periods of lifelessness, there is the kernel of something damned good.

Wenger’s getting it in the neck from all angles for his foggy utterings on strengthening – definitely going to buy someone one day, complete side in situ the next – and the evident lack of decisive swooping in the first 21 days of the window does not exactly augur well.

But until the window closes on the first of February, I want to believe that something really is cooking on that front. That a few new faces are being sought to bolster the troops. A striker, at least. Maybe a defensive midfielder. A recognition, beyond mere words, that something vaguely pre-emptive is being done to help the troops out.

There’s no point passing judgment until that time comes. That said, I do plan to be quite agitated between now and then.

Up tight (everything’s not alright)

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City

What can I write that won’t make us all teeter over the edge again and bash our already bruised heads against brick wall, or wail uncontrollably? Well I suppose it’s fair to say that a sending-off after nine minutes makes any game impossible to judge properly. Going down to ten men that early in a match tests the mettle of the meatiest, most blow-your-own-trumpet of sides, and we are neither especially meaty nor enormously capable of the correct utilisation of our brass instruments. By the end of the match we came out of things looking rather dishevelled – though having managed at least to do our shirt buttons up – and having done what we often do these days, which is asking as many questions as we manage to answer.

And I will add that we perked up quite a bit in the second half and showed some character and a bit of vim, with Jack Wilshere excelling, even if we couldn’t get a consolation goal (Giroud should have at least nodded an effort on target, and the otherwise invisible Walcott hit the post).

But by and large what I took away from it all is that we remain as far off the pace as ever, as inconsistent as always and still some distance from hitting upon the elixir of continued success. The team that Wenger rather baffling called ‘quite complete’ is nothing of the sort. (I hope that may have been lost in translation).

Timid, lacking in both authority and concentration are three ways of putting it – Wenger’s way of putting it in fact – and just how can that be? Why are we so timid? Where is our authority? Why are we not concentrating, for the love of god, against the current champions of England? For what reason does our confidence ebb and flow as rapidly as the Thames? There’s only so much pointing fingers you can do at the players before the finger inevitably swings back towards Wenger.

In the first half we were poor before Koscielny got sent off, and we were poor after he was sent off too. We should have rolled up the old sleeves and scrapped like hell to weather the ten v eleven storm, but instead we pressed the timid button by mistake. Had we played like we played in the second half from the moment Koscielny got his marching orders, who knows. But it’s all if, if, iffety iff.

Look, I have no idea what to make of things anymore. The team can be up, it can be down, it can be flying around. But it can totter out the blocks too.

So despite all that there really is only one thing for it, and that’s to come again and put myself through the mill once more.

Wednesday night, you say?

Don’t mind if I do.

Fortify yourself in advance, you say?

Might be a sensible idea.

Are Arsenal Up For The Cup? You’d hope so.

The magic of the cup, up for the cup, Wemberlee, wearing yellow ribbons – here we are again on third round weekend, and I still love this competition to bits. Wenger Mark I loved it to bits too and was rather good at it – four-times winner of it, and it should have been five given how we were mugged in 2001. But Wenger Mark II, as Goodplaya and Arseblog have pointed out, has a pretty poor record with one semi-final in seven years.

Playing weakened sides in this competition because it pays less than a higher league place, or the Champions League, sums up what I hate most about modern football. It’s the same argument that leads to Wenger saying that fourth is like a trophy, and if I ran a poll now on the blog asking whether the fans would prefer an FA Cup win or coming fourth, I suspect coming fourth would win – meaning plenty of people agree with him. Where has winning for the glory of it gone?

Given how we blew a presentable chance to get to the semi-final of the Milk Cup, and how we continue to veer from decent to dismal, this year’s FA Cup has taken on an importance all of its own.

Trouble is, even with a strong side we have no real idea how Arsenal will approach the game, physically or mentally. If even Wenger is now questioning their desire – I am still slack-jawed at that comment, if I’m honest – then you know that the inconsistency is so ingrained it’s practically tattooed. That it is crucial to the season, and possibly even to Wenger, seems rather clear to me.

In other news, the transfer window has sprung open, and in a classic Wenger bluff, our first moves are not incoming but outgoing. Chamakh has joined West Cham on loan, Djourou looks set for a loan to Hannover, Squillaci has been told he can go (it’ll be a loan, let’s not kid ourselves), and Arshavin is being touted around for a similar arrangement. It weakens the squad in terms of numbers, but not hugely in real terms – those four players have started seven games between them (five in a competition that we are no longer in), and have combined league starts of zero. That’s probably not far short of £200k, even £250k a week going nowhere.

Given how seriously we need to take the FA Cup, they wouldn’t have started in that either, barring a plague of injuries, so freeing up some space in the squad and some money would make sense there, but only assuming that we sign some replacements. Other teams have hit the ground running on the transfer front, long ago identifying needy areas and striking early – but we, characteristically, have hit the ground creeping. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, I dunno. It’s only 5th Jan.

I’m particularly interested to see how Chamakh gets on. Wenger has a long and marvellous history of only selling players when he has got all he can out of them – Vieira, Henry, Overmars, Toure etc – with some obvious exceptions in the shapes of van Persie, Fabregas, Cole. Should Chamakh be equally as poor at West Ham as he has been at Arsenal, nobody would be surprised. But if Allardyce can get something out of him – even 75% of what we saw in late 2010 – then it’s a punt worth taking. My own view is that it depends how much he plays. If you played him ten times in a row, he’d surely get better – something he has not done for years with us (why that is, who knows).

I suspect he is a back-up though, and not much more. Andy Carroll is injured, and Modibo Maiga is off to the ACN, leaving them with Carlton Cole alone (I was reminded – or informed of that by the Times here £). Good luck to him though. A decent spell there and we are more likely to be able to move him on in the summer.

Who knows what will happen. Come on you reds (or blues/purples).