Limping over the finish line

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‘Forward’, urges the new Arsenal crest. After Sunday’s reprisal of the now well-honed Collaps-o-Arsenal, perhaps ‘Sideways’ would have been more apt. Some would argue ‘Backwards’. Harsh? Of couse it is. I’m just not in a particularly generous mood at the moment. But we do continue to live up to our billing as a yo-yo team. One step forward, one step back. Turn it on, switch it off. From afar, it probably looks as if we’re jigging up and down on the spot.

Are we looking ahead at a bigger summer than the Fox-in-the-Box summer of 2001? That close season, we signed five new players (one a huge success, one a moderate success, and three failures, for what it’s worth), and since then – before then, for that matter – I don’t recall such a summer influx. For some of those proceeding years, there’s been little need. For others, there’s not been the wherewithal and for others, the doctrine has been largely to build from within.

This summer, the need is most definitely there to properly put our weaknesses to bed. The wherewithal too, or so we’re told. And as for the doctrine – well if Wenger doesn’t realise we need a new approach, however subtle, then it’s a case of Stewart Houston: We have a problem.

I’m not suggesting for a second that the solution to our infuriating bungeeing between sublime and ridiculous is players alone. I agree that it’s in no small part a mental thing – noticed how even Wenger has stopped trotting out the ‘my players have great mental strength and I am convinced they will show it’ line.

But if the manager is struggling to get his players to treat every game as if it’s Barcelona at home – a worrying thought in its own right – then one way to deal with it is of course to spice things up on the pitch. Inject some new, proven faces, and some competition.

The trouble is, when I take this argument to its logical conclusion in my own head, I get a bit giddy and see myself waving enthusiastic goodbyes to about seven players. Seven in, seven out would be one hell of a spring clean. You’d need an enormous pair of marigolds. But how cathartic would it be?

To my mind, the 6.5% ticket hike has only served to shorten people’s fuses. Many, probably most of us will cough up again, because going to Arsenal is simply something we do.

But it’s fair to ask: What are we going to get in return?

In the meantime, we have the final home game of the season, complete with the lap of appreciation. It’s going to be a seminal dad moment for me: I’m taking my 5-year-old. It’ll be his first game.

Magnificent timing to get into Arsenal, eh?

Then again, when’s it ever bad timing?


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

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    But it’s fair to ask: What are we going to get in return?”

    Entertainment. That’s the US sports ticket (hence the franchise system).

    But, cynicism aside, entertainment has been in fairly short supply this season: our reputation for playing sublime football has been maintained largely by lazy journalists and ill-prepared pundits. Remember how long it took for the ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ jibes to fade in crowds and media? And, as an aside, I do appreciate the irony of the Stoke fans’ ‘boooring’ chant!

    It was once the case that we could console ourselves that a lack of bite/trophies was compensated for by the beauty of our football. I’d suggest that this season we have had neither (our good performances are, well, good, but they’re as infrequent as relegation & mid-table teams manage).

    This is not to say that we are poor because, as the table shows, our mediocrity is better than most teams’ best.

    Deliberately confined myself to answering the “What are we going to get in return?” quote here.

  2. East Lower

    It’s true – in terms of crushing victories, there haven’t been enough. The inconsistency does me in though. That and the total inability to find our way through a team that has no more ambition than to defend. We need a new approach.

    We’re far from poor, clearly. But we’re capable of so much more. We need a statement of some sort this summer – a few players sacrificed as a statement of intent.

  3. Adam Elder

    Hope you and your son enjoy his first day out to see the Arsenal! No matter what happens he’ll always remember it.

    T’will be an interesting summer indeed. There will be more pressure and scrutiny on the boss than ever before (some of it long overdue).

  4. Anonymous

    Totally agree.There needs to be more than 1/2 players in for all manner of reasons : cheering up the fans a bit, shocking some players out of their complacency,convincing the others (who aren’t complacent) that we mean business thereby giving them a boost etc etc……
    this simply cannot be another summer of cosmetic changes.

    Almunia out, an experienced back-up for Chesney in.
    Eboue out, decent cover for Sagna in.
    Squillaci out, a quality partner for Vermaelen in, leaving Djourou as back-up with Koscielny as 4th choice.
    Clichy out, a new left back in.
    Denilson out, proper competition for Song in (we simply cannot be so dependant on one player, he’s not Messi ffs!!)
    Diaby out, replaced by Ramsey
    Rosicky out, replaced by Lansbury

    There’s only 2 big spends there (centrehalf & DM …the rest won’t cost much to do..
    in fact financially we may gain through replacing Eboue/Clichy)

    I (probably just me) think we’re ok up front. We just need to play 2 up top more often so that Bendntner/Chamakh get more time in their right position.

    The time for talking up underachievers is over. Ship em out now.

    (I should add this is me sticking my head in the sand assuming Cesc is staying !!!)

  5. East Lower

    You can add Vela to that list, of course. And one of Bendtner and Chamakh… Obviously they’re not all going to go, but how many would we miss?

    I’d forgotten about Lansbury. Has he been any good at Norwich?

  6. East Lower

    Thanks, and agreed about the scrutiny.

  7. Jeff

    I would agree that the Champagne football has been in short supply.

  8. Anonymous

    True,Vela has been probably the biggest disappointment. Sums up the problem with our young players really; all the talent in the world but seriously lacking in desire.He’s been hopeless at WBA. As has JET at Cardiff.

    Lansbury’s been great. Him & Bartley (at Rangers) seem to be the only ones on loan who have really impressed.

    You’re right though.Not all of them will go because that’s not Wenger’s way.But they should. I’ll be honest; if any of Diaby/Denilson/Almunia are still at the club next season I for one won’t be contributing to their wages.

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