Keep Calm And Support The Arsenal or PANIC!!! (It’s Your Call)


A little perspective…

Let’s get straight to the point: Sunday was disappointing, demoralising, and every other negative adjective you can think of. Seven days earlier, we played a game that defied the statistics, shamed the haters and lost some unfortunate souls a bit of money. How did we then lose to a team against whom we’ve had such a great record at home in the recent past? This was West Ham at home, it wasn’t supposed to be a complicated matter (all due respect to the Hammers, the Emirates hasn’t been a friendly place for some time). How did we mess this one up? Surely now there’s just no chance we’ll challenge for the league, let alone win the thing…and so forth, and so on.

While I share the disappointment of losing the first match of the season, I do feel that Arsenal fans are losing – or are not giving any room for – much perspective here. It’s all a bit Aston Villa 3-1 all over again isn’t it? That day, fans attacked the manager, claiming he doesn’t know what he’s doing (it’s not as if the same fans have ever managed a football team themselves) and demanding him to “SPEND SPEND SPEND!!” This time around, perhaps the two FA Cups we’ve won since may have spared Wenger the direct, aggressive harassment, but it hasn’t quite stopped fans from being unreasonable. I believe it’s completely possible to be disappointed without being irrational, albeit a difficult task given the emotions involved.

Imagine the criticism level if Wenger hadn't just won two of these in a row...

Imagine the criticism level if Wenger hadn’t just won two of these in a row…

One of the main complaints coming out of Sunday’s loss has been transfers, and I fail to see how losing to that match against West Ham has anything to do with the lack of new signings. As we know, the only senior addition we’ve made is Petr Čech from Chelsea. There are constant calls for a new centre-back, defensive midfielder, centre-forward and winger, because with those signings, “we’ll win the league!” It’s quite amazing how people say that so matter-of-factly, with such certainty. Anyway, I disagree with the reasoning around lack of signings, and it’s simple. When the starting line-up was announced, how many of us looked at those names and the set-up and thought we would struggle to win the game? I’d bet it’s close to zero. Why? Because the players who wore red and white on Sunday at the Emirates should have been good enough to win against West Ham. I’d go as far as saying even some their team mates on the bench who didn’t make the first eleven, had they started instead, would also have been widely expected to possess enough to win that match.

Even our bench should have been able to take care of the Hammers

Even our bench should have been able to take care of the Hammers

So why, after losing the game, are we so quick to rush to buying, buying, buying? When you look at it with a bit more perspective, you can see that rationale doesn’t make sense. One day if we lose a critical player to injury, and his replacement comes up short, we might be more justified to use this as a valid reason to criticise. But, given that we have a fairly strong squad at the moment where even our back up players have shown that they can be relied upon when needed, even that criticism would be more a product of hindsight than any wisdom or better judgement on our part.

By the way, let’s not even entertain the Giroud bashing – I see the Frenchman is once again getting stick. Our game in the middle of the park was dire. When you have midfielders passing the ball out to touch, how do you expect the same players to provide any decent service to the man up front? The team overall did not play well. Pointing at the one player who was not the reason we conceded 2 goals is nonsensical.

Giroud doesn't deserve all the blame...

Giroud doesn’t deserve all the blame…

If it wasn’t lack of activity in the transfer market, then what was it? The boss had a few things to say, which were obviously not popular with everyone. He mentioned his own frustration: “A big part of it was not to concede, even if we played for a 0-0. The way we conceded the goal just before half-time, with experience we have in our team, is difficult to understand.…We didn’t always respect the basics…Our passing was not incisive enough.” From this, it’s clear that part of the memo was to defend resolutely, and the poor passing, which is down to the players, also let him down (look, Arsène Wenger just said he’d have played for a goalless draw if needs be – the shock and horror). He also spoke of West Ham being sharper and more match-prepared given the competitive football they’ve already played in their unsuccessful Europa League ventures. Some people were citing that we had a good preseason so West Ham’s games don’t place them at much of an advantage. Honestly, the BAT and Emirates Cup may come with a trophy and medals at the end, but they are practically pre-season friendlies. West Ham effectively started their season early with competitive European matches, so they are more match fit than most other teams and the fatigue might catch up with them later on in the season. It’s not an excuse, but it does play a role especially when combined with other factors.

Wenger also added that the players may have been a bit nervous and rushed things too much. It’s difficult to understand why there’d be that much anxiety for a game of this level, especially after the morale boosting win 7 days prior against a much more difficult opponent. I’m no expert at reading players’ moods, but Arsène Wenger works with them every day so there must be something he saw that most of us wouldn’t be able to? There’s an argument that it’s the manager’s job to motivate the players and get them mentally ready if they are low on confidence, which is a fair assessment, and many times journalists and fans alike have tried to get him to admit culpability when things go wrong. I don’t understand the persistence because no manager worth his salt will ever openly come out and say, “of course that loss was my fault” – flashbacks of Jacqui Oatley trying to corner Wenger into blaming anyone, anything, for the draw vs. Hull. If anything, the Mourinho’s of this world simply play the deflection game, so well that journos are permanently hypnotised by it. So, perhaps Wenger’s response here is as close as we’ll get to a manager placing the fault at his own feet.

Last time I looked it was only August 11th...

Last time I looked it was only August 11th…

After a loss like this, there is often a lot of unnecessary panic, talk of diving into the transfer market straight away and a lot of blame gets thrown around. What I think is the most important thing is accepting the result, and moving ahead with the same optimism we’ve had. Wenger’s own words on Sunday come to mind: “A successful season is down to how you respond to disappointments. It’s never a clear motorway and we have to respond quickly.” Unfortunately, these are not words that are popular with us emotion-driven fans, but this is a truth we need to stick with. It’s a long journey to May 2016, and we will probably find more things to be disappointed about ten months from now. The team still has what it takes to make this a successful season. Let’s all keep calm and support The Arsenal.

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16 Responses to Keep Calm And Support The Arsenal or PANIC!!! (It’s Your Call)

  1. Victor Thompson August 12, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    Well written article Ramzwi,

    Where I would differ is that whilst I agree we have the players to challenge for the title and we should have beaten West Ham, the fact is that when Arsenal play in third gear and sideways and backwards, there is no leader on the pitch to give them a kick up the backside.

    Arsene has referred to their pace of play ( or lack of it ): their failure to play direct until it is too late and they abandon all shape and simply bomb forward leaving further gaps to exploit. Think of Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Monaco, Napoli, etc. It makes no difference what he says. They still repeat their mistakes.

    We do need to enter the market for a sergeant major on the pitch. Tony Adams would never have tolerated that situation.

    • Dave Seager August 12, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      Victor are you on Twitter. I do wish you withdraw perhaps write a blog for us. Your comments are always informed and insightful.


      • Victor Thompson August 12, 2015 at 9:51 am #

        Thank you for your reply Dave,

        I am an Arsenal Supporter since 1956. I enjoy commenting and I particularly like the reviews of our history made by many good contributors. I would be delighted to contribute a blog, but if you are patient with me, I am retiring at the end of October. I want to do justice to Arsenal and devote some time to prepare something appropriate.

        I admire the enthusiasm and passion of the young supporters and I wish that they could understand what the history of Arsenal brings to the club. Utd. Chelsea, City etc, whilst undoubtedly big clubs now, they are commercial giants. Arsenal are FOOTBALL giants, once referred to as “The Guards” of the then football league. Arsenal have a Cache they do not have. They are commonly referred to as “The Arsenal”. Queen Elizabeth is universally recognised as “The Queen” all over the world. I try to remember that when I write about The Arsenal. It is not snobbery. It is dignity and proper behaviour consistent with the club.

        • Dave Seager August 12, 2015 at 10:39 am #

          Being a keen historian I hope you have read my book? haha

          Look forward to hearing from you when you have more time

      • Zwi August 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

        I agree. Victor, you sound like you have a wealth of knowledge being a Gooner for so long. I quite enjoy reading stories about Arsenal from back in the day. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Antique Gunmen August 12, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    Now we all knew how Jose Mourinho feeling at the Shield. It’s almost the same. Let alone the quality different (which wasn’t equal to West ham), JM thought he could expand long time domination against AW and Arsenal. Our different thing apart from Jose was, we didn’t know how to escape this humiliation in style like Jose the clown did.
    However, it’s too early to quit supporting our team, and I’m sure we’ll bounce back in style in next game. Panic? Are we insane?

  3. Sean Williams August 12, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    You are so wrong. Where’s my evidence? The past few years are the evidence. Wenger to me commits football self-harm. Early in the window we saw Kondogbia, Carvalho, Imbula all available. Wenger was not interested because in his eyes, and in his eyes only, the team as it was, was good enough to mount a PL challenge. Well first game in and we were stuffed by West Ham’s very own DM. Comical. Now, too late, Wenger may well end up buying a third choice DM in Krychowiak. When Mourinho called Wenger “A Specialist in Failure”, he was right. In both the Premier League and the European Champions League, that is what Wenger is…a failure. A stubborn man who believes only he knows how to win. Sadly in the big trophies he does not know at all how to win. Like I said ‘football self harm’

  4. Chidebem Ugonna August 12, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Agree with you though.The team we fielded was decent.We should have beaten West Ham,but I guess it just wasn’t our day.The match recalls the Monaco match.Favorites to win the match until the first goal was conceded then we pressed the panic button.I see us coming back against Palace.It’s gonna be tough but I think we can do it (We’ve been beating them away since they got promotion)

    • Zwi August 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, Chidebem. I’m fully with you on the points you’ve made. It’s a disappointment the match we lost, but we have the chance to bounce back. I’m pretty sure the whole team is fully aware, more than we are, that they need to do better than Sunday. I believe we’ll see a better performance against Palace. The boys really need to pull up their socks.

  5. Astro August 12, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    good write up. all the time when there is a set back we said because Wenger didn’t buy a particular player we wanted. if Benzema was in the team again west Ham we would still loss because all the players played below average so let have faith in the team and also the coach. buying players is not always the solution but keeping them fit and motivating them that the only way out.

    • Zwi August 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, Chidebem. I’m fully with you on the points you’ve made. It’s a disappointment the match we lost, but we have the chance to bounce back. I’m pretty sure the whole team is fully aware, more than we are, that they need to do better than Sunday. I believe we’ll see a better performance against Palace. The boys really need to pull up their socks.

    • Zwi August 12, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks, Astro. I agree with you. The simple action of buying players is not going to solve our problems. What we need first is that the players who are already in the club must play better than they did vs West Ham. On Sunday, the players were poor. That’s why we didn’t win the match, not because we didn’t have Benzema in the starting line up.

  6. Legacy August 12, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Wenger is the major fault at Arsenal.
    He is washed up but dont want to accept that He is washed up.

    • Victor Thompson August 12, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Hi legacy,

      Obviously you are deeply disappointed and angry. I am interested in your pseudonym “Legacy” as it implies that a legacy means something to you.

      It is unfortunate that your expectations were frustrated on Sunday, but the “Legacy” of Arsene Wenger i.e is a team which for the most part, you enjoy watching every week, a stadium which has elevated Arsenal way above Spurs Everton, Aston Villa, and whose stadiums are similar in size but who cannot compete with Arsenal in terms of income. All done with our own money. Spurs wont be in that position for many years.

      If Arsene had not arrived at Highbury, we would probably still be playing there and competing with mid table clubs for our position in the Premiership. I am not saying we should not expect to win the title. I earnestly hope that we do, but it is because of our recent performances that that is a legitimate hope. I think you have to balance those achievements against the poor performance on Sunday before you can say that Wenger is the major fault at Arsenal.

      • Zwi August 12, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

        Brilliant, Victor!! I think I’ll enjoy reading your writing when you eventually join the team. Really loving your responses on here.

  7. Astro August 15, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    Dave i needs to get something clear. is the FA favoring/supporting man U? why did they move their week 2 match against Aston Villa to Friday knowing that they (Man U ) are having their champion league play off on Tuesday. when arsenal was involve in play off stage no consideration is given to u. what can u say about this?

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