I was in a pub in South London yesterday with a fellow gooner and a Spurs fan. The defeat endured by the latter against City was far from enjoyable, proving that money can – if nothing else – buy you footballing quality. It also proved that facing Man City in any competition this year is a very scary prospect indeed…about as scary as our own prospects in the Premier League apparently.
We were in trouble, is the thing. In a way our injuries, suspensions an lack of quality replacements precluded yesterday’s defeat, but not the scoreline. Who thought it wouldn’t be hard? Really? Still, anyone who has seen the captain’s post-match interview will find it hard to disagree that the result is anything other than “honest”. There were turning points – RVP’s penalty at 1-0 down for one – but you can’t come out of an 8-2 game and make excuses.
At the same time hammerings happen in football. It’s something those who’ve been around the game for more than five minutes, or just around Arsenal since before the Invincibles, will know. OneArseneWenger made this comment on Twitter after the game:
In 2001 we got thumped 6-1 by Utd at OT… the following year 75% of that same team won the Double… Never Say Never.
It’s true. So to anyone like the Gooner sat behind me during the game who called for Wenger’s head and then, when I questioned him, proclaimed “Sack them all”, I think a dose of perspective is needed, along with a big heavy stick of rationality.
If you want me to break down the scoreline, let’s not forget that the two goals Rooney scored from free kicks were absolutely, undoubtedly, world class. As were the two that Ashley Young scored. You can argue that inexperience might have conceded the fouls, or far too much space, but in any game fouls happen and in any game shots are made. Theo gave away a penalty, Park wasn’t closed down, Nani beat an offside flap (sic), and Welbeck simply out-muscled Djourou as the big Swiss and Koscielny proved once again our reliance on Vermaelen for defensive grit.
We were hammered, we can’t complain, we can’t make excuses, but it’s also imperative that we don’t self-combust as fans. I love Arsenal, but supporting a team is as much accepting the heavy losses when they happen as it is about accepting the moments of brilliance when they shine through. I don’t believe that anyone in or around the club took any joy from yesterday, and it’s a reminder to anyone thinking that we have a right to win games and be successful that the reality is distinctly otherwise.
The squad needs a shot in the arm, and I refuse to make any comment about our aspirations this season until the transfer window closes. A heavy defeat occurred and we’re all unhappy about it. But it happened. We need to deal with it, and we need to move forward.