The Arsenal enigma rolls on

Jewell in the Town

Ipswich Town 1-0 Arsenal

enigma [ɪˈnɪgmə]
a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous
[from Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable, story]
enigmatic [ˌɛnɪgˈmætɪk], enigmatical adj
enigmatically adv

[Forgive me, positive Arsenal fans, for I am about to moan]

The schizophrenic nature of this season makes blogging very hard indeed. Just when you feel a surge of oomph, along comes an exhalation of gaah. I’ve completely given up anticipating what this team could achieve this season, on the grounds that nobody, from the fans to the pundits to the manager, can possibly know. I’ve taken to shrugging my shoulders, in the finest French tradition. Like this team, it’s able to say everything, and nothing.

In fact, I’m fairly sure I’ve written those exact words, albeit in a different order, several times this season already.

As Mr Mouse says, there’s certainly no point in analysing individual performances – for what is there to say? And as for the team performance, well we’ve seen similar disappointments all season, living cheek by jowl with aggressive, impressive, high-tempo victories. That this performance came with many of our ‘backups’ is neither here nor there – it also contained Fabregas, Wilshere, Arshavin, Walcott, Djourou and Koscielny. It was a strong team. The ability to switch from superb to supine appears to be endemic.

It would be too easy to mark this defeat – our eighth of the season – as just ‘another bad day at the office’. Strictly speaking it was exactly that, but that would be passing the buck. Why are we having so many bad days at the office? That’s the question.

Let it be said that Ipswich, as Leeds before them, played their socks off and deserve all the plaudits coming their way. I thought they were terrific. But we were far off the pace, and no amount of cheerful tweeting on my behalf will change that (it was worth a try).

Let it also be said that we should still make the final. The trouble is, we seem incapable of making things easy for ourselves. Incapable of taking the bit between our teeth more than once in a while. The upshot of last night is that Ipswich have seen a way through us, and beyond that, West Ham or Birmingham will have seen a way through us too.

We’ve been talking about consistency, and momentum, and collective will-to-win all season, yet we only see it in bursts. In fact, we’ve been banging the inconsistency drum for years now.

Here I am, doing it again. I’m tired of it.