Another throw of the dice

Arsenal 3-3 Norwich

I would like to tell you with a straight face that I withheld my thoughts on Saturday’s ‘thriller’ because I anticipated yet another twist on Sunday afternoon, but if I did say that I’d be lying the lie of a thousand liars. I honestly expected the Totteringhams to take the gift we had presented them on a platter, once and for all, and put us all out of our misery.

Instead, it looks as if we’re going to have to go through it again though, doesn’t it.

I doubt that I am the only person who has developed an unhealthy dollop of fatalism about the eventual outcome. I mean, if you fail to grasp your chances several times in a row, despite klaxons sounding, who’s to say you’re ever going to grasp it? Wenger couldn’t pinpoint the reason why we stodged through the first 45 minutes – “We have to analyse the reasons why we were not sharp enough in the first half”, he said, “There is no obvious reason because we prepared normally…” before then pinpointing exactly why: “But maybe subconsciously [we thought] we would win it.”

Complacency is a fault line that runs through this side, regrettably. It has been for ages. As Gunnerblog said on the Twisters, most teams have a sticky patch during a season – we have now had three.

Or as my brother said during half-time, “There’s nothing wrong with our players, physically or in terms of technique…. THEY JUST HAVEN’T GOT IT UPSTAIRS”.

Well in that case they have a week to go rummaging around in the attic, don’t they, because to throw away one or two chances to nail this consolation prize is regrettable, but to blow the final chance would be unforgivable.

Luckily, there is a blueprint for success, and it involves a more disciplined approach to defending – throughout the side – combined with the kind of attacking verve that suddenly and belatedly exploded us into life in the second half on Saturday. A verve that even seeped into the pores of Gervinho. Anonymous in the first half, he was like a slippery eel in the second.

Slippery eels – we need more of them.

One further thought: I think it’s probably better that we’re playing our last game away from home. I’ve had a feeling, since we ballsed up the home game at Wigan, that the understandable frustrations of the crowd (long-standing, often just under the surface) would be sensed and mirrored by the players, and maybe that’s another factor in the tepid performances that have followed. Not that I’m trying to defend them, but maybe it’s something to add into the mix.

But anyway, here we still are with a decent shout for third. 47 goals conceded, ten defeats, three points from 12 – and yet, still our destiny is in our hands.

What we need though, to end this on an upbeat note, are some positive stats, not negative ones. So before I bid you a happy bank holiday Monday, I shall leave you with this note of optimism.


One more thing: My scientific poll has ended, results below. The conclusion: We are all losing our minds.


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

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    If Arsene is still manager at the start of next season he is an extraordinarily lucky man. It is indeed remarkable that 3rd is still in our hands….
    We are going nowhere fast as a club. Has he resolved the issues we had at the end of last season ? Or the season before ? Or the one before etc etc…..

    How many more chances do we give him based on his (undeniably brilliant) past achievements ?

    Desperate for this season to be over.

  2. Jeff

    Of course it was really poor team defending/concentration to allow three goals from a recently-promoted side at home. The attacking in the second half was great though.  I quite enjoyed the Norwich match.  Gervinho, as you said, sprung into action, and we created so many chances. Overall that was a deserved victory – almost. When they tackled Van Persie in the box, it was  an act of defeatism: conceding a penalty and a clear red card. I was so disappointed that this shocking non-call would keep us out of the Champions League, and hugely relieved now.  70 points and automatic qualification would be a good season for Arsenal, and a once-in-a-lifetime epic achievement for almost any other side in English football. At least for an Arsenal team in crisis, it’s a nice consolation prize.

  3. Anonymous

    And what about Norwich’s just as blatant (it not more) pen not given for Koscielny’s rugby tackle ? Or Benayoun not being sent off for kicking out ? (maybe soft but technically a red & given more often than not)
    Or Ramsey not being sent off (not once but twice) for yellow card tackles when already booked ??
    I don’t understand this relentless looking for external factors to blame rather than our own inadequacies.

    Honestly Jeff, if you enjoyed that, I have to ask how much you actually care because no Arsenal fan with a real passion for the club could have enjoyed that.

    Similarly for your comment that is a good season. It’s not, it’s very poor. Our ‘title challenge’ over within a month, no challenge for either domestic cup & out of CL in first knockout round to a distinctly average side.

  4. Jeff

    I might just lack “real passion,” but I wonder how supporters with “real passion” for clubs like Leeds, Liverpool, or Reading cope? 

    Honestly, at 3-2 up, I was chuffed, whatever that says about me. I was just so happy to see some attacking spirit.

  5. Anonymous

    They cope the same as everyone else. Any normal football fan wants their club to do the best they can with the resources they have. With the same issues bogging us down for at least 3 years & tens of millions sitting in the bank unspent, we are simply not doing that. While that remains the situation and the issues remain unresolved, then no season can be described as ‘good’.

    Who wasn’t chuffed at 3-2 ?? What a bizarre comment. The game didn’t end there though so whatever feelings were had at 3-2 are completely irrelevant.

  6. East Lower

    I enjoyed it when we were laying siege to the goal too. Arsenal at their best. Just as the first half was Arsenal at their worst. As was Norwich’s third goal.

    I think there’s room to iron out the complacency and the organisation. Of course there is.

    Whether, however, we will ever be in a position to challenge for the title, with Man City spending what they spend, well I don’t know. 

    But cut out the errors and the infuriating inconsistency – that’s do-able. And after that, who knows.

  7. Anonymous

    Absolutely. We all know City’s spending is not going to slow down. (thanks to UEFA’s lack of any ability to see through on matters that actually count)
    I’m not demanding titles. What I am demanding is that we attempt to get the best squad assembled that we can on our resources & then see where we end up.

    If we end up 3rd still, fine, no complaints from me. But as a fan to accept the current situation ??? Just don’t get it. Anyone who cares for the club has simply got to be hurting after watching this season.

  8. Jeff

    I thought you might be so miserable that even the fightback to 3-2 wouldn’t curb your disgust.  I take the point – if I’ve had a nice day that ends with a car wreck, it’s not much of a nice day in the end – but I have no problem admitting I lack an element of “real passion.” I follow the club, subscribe to Arsenal Player, comment on this site – but I still enjoyed the Norwich match despite the disappointments. I wasn’t so devastated by conceding the third goal that it ruined the match for me. The thought of missing out on Champions League was a downer, but I’m optimistic for third place at this point.

    You appear to know more about the team’s unused resources than I do – it doesn’t play too much into my thinking about the team’s performance. From your point of view, I can see your frustration, and I take your argument that your misery is uniquely miserable. You would cope with relegation fine, for example, if you thought the team was trying as hard as it could? Expectations play such a big role. Finishing third in England is a good result, from my perspective.

  9. Anonymous

    A team overachieving (regardless of whether that entails any actual ‘success’) will always have my absolute loyalty. Our current underachieving manager & players  tend to piss me off more than anything else….

    My misery though isn’t uniquely miserable. It’s the same as every Gooner I know. All of them with a longstanding passion for the club that makes it a huge part of their lives. I guess I just find it hard to understand the viewpoint of someone to whom Arsenal is just a passing interest from afar to whom our failures don’t matter so much……

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