533 days later…

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Amid the angst that has accompanied much of Arsenal’s close season and subsequent opening day defeat – some worries justified, other reactions overblown – it’s sometimes easy to forget that tomorrow will be a monumental day.

After 533 days, football’s back at Arsenal as it’s meant to be, with the fans given equal billing to the players.

Frankly, given its over-use for 18 months, the word ‘unprecedented’ can go whistle. But not having fans at grounds either at all, or only very occasionally and in tiny numbers, really was just that. 

Get in the bin, canned crowd noise 

Like most people, I found watching behind-closed-doors pandemic football a useful distraction as we all hunkered down to various lockdowns. But it wasn’t ever much more than that for me – and not just because of the gloopy football we served up. With no crowds, it was only ever half an experience and consequently, I only ever found myself half watching. 

I know it was the same for all clubs, but it just wasn’t real. For example, what would the Emirates crowd have made of our pre-Christmas relegation form? What would the inevitably frustrated reaction have meant to the team, or to the manager? How will we remember the 2020 cup final in years to come, given there was nobody there? Would some of the lackadaisical and predictable attacking patterns have been altered in the face of a mutinous crowd? We shall never know.

But at last it’s back – and there’s no hiding place anymore. 

Good times, bad times – you know I’ve had my share 

So tomorrow is incredibly exciting. I’m as giddy as a middle aged man should be without it becoming a medical condition. I even bought a new third shirt, which is a sure sign that I’ve taken leave of my senses.

Yes, there are holes in the team, we have a rookie manager who’s still very much a rookie, and we’re still sniffing around to work out what our higher purpose really is – but blah blah blah.

Honestly, given the last 18 months I’m determined to see the bigger picture. Throw it all into the cauldron – the good, the bad and the ugly – and enjoy the ride. That’s what I’m going to do.

And there are positives – apart from just being in the stadium, which is the biggest one of them all. In Tavares, White, Lokonga, Odegaard and Ramsdale, we have five young, exciting players who will either start straight away or at the very least splash a bit of water in the faces of the current squad. We already have Tierney, Gabriel, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Saka – all young, all key. Xhaka, Partey and Pepe provide some experience for what is a very young squad.

I know it’s not fashionable to say it, because there seems to be a new narrative writing them both off, but in Aubameyang and Lacazette (if both stay!) we have two proven goalscorers who even last season – which was, let’s be honest, a total write-off – scored 31 goals between them. So they should have plenty to offer too.

So yeah, I can’t wait. Whatever happens tomorrow – and as first home games go, it’s going to be a baptism of fire – it will be great to be back.

Tune back another time to see whether my positivity holds strong in the battering wind of reality.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. zicoinexile

    Glass half full then? Hope you enjoy it.

  2. hans andersson

    Now the 100% uninvolved Kroenke family (old Stan and his ignorant son) starting to get a little, little nervous. They try to protect their incompetent handyman Mikel with arguments that won’t do. If you want to build a professional football team with young talented players it’s of utter importance to start with hiring an experienced coach/ manager with undisputable merits to take care of and lead this young squad. You don’t get an assistant who never before have been even close to the job and it’s expectations.
    Primarily it isn’t handy Mikels fault. He should never have been coach/ manager for Arsenal in the first place, he had no proven qualifications. 100% Kronk doesn’t understand football played with the feet, true football (soccer) and he thought obviosly that this cheap assistant coach would do. He didn’t.
    Of course, you could say that Mikel should be intelligent and mature enough to say no thank you to a job he must have known he wasn’t qualified for. But he wasn’t.
    I guess he felt flattered – and said yes.
    The problem is that you must know from Day One what you are doing as a professional football coach, and from Day Two you must show it. You can’t expect to get time to learn the job by trial and error, by and by. Then it very soon will be bye-bye. And there is where we are now, the evening before the Chelsky clash. With the other CL finalist waiting in the third round there is not much to hope for. 0-9 after three weeks the season 2021/22 will be over – and Arsenal FC have to fight like hell to avoid relegation.
    And this poor sod, this wannabe skipper, is standing there with water to his knees on this sinking ship and try to save some of the rotten goods by resigning players who should have left years ago (Xhaka, Elneny etc). We are witnessing a tragedy.
    Wannabe said when he got the the job that never should have been given to him, that his ambitions was the Champions League title in three years… He’s a dreamer, Championship in three years is more likely.

  3. MJHD

    Love you Jim, I’ll be back along side you soon and I’m all set for a 3rd kit too – your old mate long lost…

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