St. Joel? No. Soft Olli? Maybe. Tactics Fail? Yes. Plastic Fans? WTF!

Seen It All Before

As the start of the 2015-16 campaign approached, I suggested that winning the league title this season was a realistic possibility, even more so if we were able to add at least one more player of quality to the squad and following our victory against Manchester City, it had appeared that both the manager and the team had finally learned how to play against the so called better teams by finding a balance between playing on the counter attack and looking to dominate possession.

During a season where all our supposed title rivals have struggled to find consistency and form, at times it has been difficult not to get caught up in the excitement that surrounds a possible title challenge, one that may yet end up being a successful one, however, our Boxing Day visit Southampton’s St. Mary’s Stadium provided a harsh reality check to any Arsenal supporter who had been getting ahead of themselves and there has certainly been a few.

It is not only our chances of success that supporters have allowed themselves to get carried away about but also the form of Joel Campbell too, with some members of our fan base discussing him in terms that practically suggest he’s the Costa Rican equivalent of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, despite having only impressed in a handful of games, with one supporter ludicrously labelling him our new Robert Pires.

Costa Rica's Messi? Hmm...

Costa Rica’s Messi? Hmm…

Whilst I am happy to admit that Joel has looked a better player than I initially gave him credit for and accept that his inclusion, up until Saturday’s debacle, had given our team shape a more compact appearance due to his work rate and willingness to assist Hector Bellerin with his defensive duties, there remains a lot of work to be done in the final third of the pitch, in terms of his finishing and at times he still looks like he’s attempting to run through treacle.

Although Olivier Giroud has been in impressive form recently and finding the back of the net on a regular basis, the theatrical way in which he continues to roll around on the ground feigning injury and throwing his arms aloft in protest in the direction of the referee after almost every challenge remains a huge source of frustration, after all, he’s sturdily built and stands at six foot four so I’d expect him to have the physical presence that enables him to punch his weight against opposition defenders without complaint.

For a big guy Giroud sure spends a lot of time on the ground...

For a big guy Giroud sure spends a lot of time on the ground…

Whilst on the subject of players offering a physical presence, Southampton’s Victor Wanyama once again displayed the type of attributes that should make him one of the names at the top end of Arsene’s shopping list and having gone on record in the summer to advocate his signature, my opinion has not altered and one particularly robust challenge during the first half stood out.

Having recently praised Wenger for making an effective in game tactical change during our victory over Olympiakos in Greece, where he switched Campbell and Walcott to the opposite flanks, it would appear that Arsene took one step forward only to take two steps back by yet again demonstrating his inability to be consistently proactive from the touch line after it quickly became evident that Per Mertesacker was having difficulty dealing with the pace and movement of the Southampton attack, so why not replace him with the more mobile option in Gabriel?

Some supporters will undoubtedly argue that Laurent Koscielny was having an equally poor game and state that it’s unfair to single out individuals or criticise the managers decision making when the whole team has underperformed but replacing Koscielny with Gabriel would have done nothing but offer a like for like replacement, whilst replacing Per would have at least given our defence additional pace in an attempt to stem the tide.

Poor as he was - Moss can't be blamed for Arsenal's thrashing...

Poor as he was – Moss can’t be blamed for Arsenal’s thrashing…

I have seen numerous supporters point out that poor refereeing decisions had a major impact on the result, after having arguably played a part in all four of the Southampton goals but the reality is that a four goal defeat flattered us after we were outplayed and outfought in every area on the pitch for the duration and it is no exaggeration to say that on another day we could easily have conceded six or seven, sadly we really were that poor.

On the back of the victory over Manchester City, it would be very easy to suggest that it was just a bad day at the office but let’s not forget that this heavy defeat was against a Southampton side who were only able to pick up a home draw against basement boys Aston Villa a few weeks ago and have been struggling to score goals of late, with this in mind my question would be, why do Arsenal have so many of these so called called bad days at the office?

Having said all that, we still have a fantastic opportunity to win the title this season, even more so if Wenger uses the January transfer window wisely, a scenario that I won’t be holding my breath over and although Chelsea, Liverpool and both the Manchester clubs have all been surprisingly below par in this unpredictable campaign, if we do end up as league champions, the substandard quality of our rivals would not in anyway dampen my celebrations.

In some ways, what disappointed me almost as much as the team being beaten so comprehensively, is reading comments from people calling fellow Arsenal supporters ‘plastic’ for expressing their disappointment about the result on various social media sites.

Just so you know - THIS is a plastic fan...

Just so you know – THIS is a plastic fan…

Quite frankly, it is embarrassing to see fully grown adults using a term, that implies someone is a fake supporter, towards other supporters who are evidently hurt, frustrated or angry at watching their team suffer such a poor defeat, in a performance where all the players unquestionably deserved criticism.

Football has always been full of opinions and it’s about time some people accepted that everyone is entitled to have one…..

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12 Responses to St. Joel? No. Soft Olli? Maybe. Tactics Fail? Yes. Plastic Fans? WTF!

  1. Levenshulme Blue December 28, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Where’s the basis for your ridiculous graphic? In August 1998, City were in the 3rd division and about to run out to play Blackpool at Maine Road. There were 32,000 fans there in a ground that held 32,500 and, to reiterate, we were playing Blackpool. Arsenal were Double winners and your average attendance was 38,000. What would your average crowd have been in you had been in our position? We’ll not know because it didn’t happen. However, with the sour, self-entitled, whinging, wealthy, johnny-come-lately, Highbury Library fanbase that your ‘football’ club engenders, it’s fair bet you wouldn’t have been a patch on the hardy, fatalistic lads we have.

    You should drop the chip on the shoulder and understand that football is always changing. That ebb and flow means fortunes change and ours certainly has. The words “tough shit”, come to mind. You’re just going to have to lump it.

    • Batmandela December 29, 2015 at 11:52 am #

      The author of the article was not responsible for the images – that was me.

      I apologize for any anguish I may have caused to citizens reading this Arsenal blog by adding an image of an actual plastic fan with the Manchester City logo… I meant to use the Manchester United logo. In my haste I did a Google search for ‘Manchester FC logo’ and seem to have inadvertently used your logo instead.

      It has been corrected now.

      Everybody knows that the millions of Manchester City fans that seem to have sprung up since you started winning stuff were there the whole time. It was silly – though accidental as pointed out above – to imply anything different.

      I must admit, though – your logo looked much better on the fan. Perhaps because the fan is pale blue and white, like your logo. It’s very hard to find a red and yellow plastic fan that goes with the Man Utd logo – doesn’t seem to be much call for them.

      Anyhow, as I said earlier – apologies for any pain I may have caused. Please don’t let my slip-up stop you from visiting this Arsenal blog.

      Thanks.

    • Victor Thompson December 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      Dear Levenshulme Blue,

      Where on earth did you get that interpretation of Nick`s article. He was responding to the jibe from other Arsenal fans who likened those fellow supporters who criticised their own club on their own website. It was not for the consumption of City supporters. Perhaps you have a chip on your shoulder.

      As for the game, you have a selective memory. We did what your team has done for so long and ceded possession in order to create the room for our lethal strikers. It worked perfectly and City could and should have been on the end of a hiding. Incidentally, I take on board what you say about City. They were actually the bigger club in Manchester and had it not been for the fact that City let United play at Maine Road when Old Trafford was bombed in the second world war, they may not even exist today.

      Utd. had a burgeoning team when the Munich air disaster happened and they would probably have emerged as a major club anyway, but there is no doubt that the Munich Air Disaster made them a world famous club. Since then City have been second to them but I do recognise the loyalty of fans like City and Everton whose clubs have lived in the shadow of their neighbours for so long. Respect to them for doing so.

  2. martin murphy December 28, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    Manchester City were averaging home gates of just under 30,000 in the third division in 1998/99. Manchester United were winning the treble at the time. Please explain your plastic fan jibe, as you pride yourself on your honesty. If you were really honest, you would admit that you were second best against City last Monday. The visitors had more possession, more shots and more shots on target. Walcott’s goal was Arsenal’s first shot in the game after 33 minutes. A howler gifted them the second. You pretend to be above it all, but, at the end of the day, you’re the worst type of “fan”. Typical gooner.

    • Batmandela December 29, 2015 at 11:54 am #

      The author of the article was not responsible for the images – that was me.

      I apologize for any anguish I may have caused to citizens reading this Arsenal blog by adding an image of an actual plastic fan with the Manchester City logo… I meant to use the Manchester United logo. In my haste I did a Google search for ‘Manchester FC logo’ and seem to have inadvertently used your logo instead.

      It has been corrected now.

      Everybody knows that the millions of Manchester City fans that seem to have sprung up since you started winning stuff were there the whole time. It was silly – though accidental as pointed out above – to imply anything different.

      I must admit, though – your logo looked much better on the fan. Perhaps because the fan is pale blue and white, like your logo. It’s very hard to find a red and yellow plastic fan that goes with the Man Utd logo – doesn’t seem to be much call for them.

      Anyhow, as I said earlier – apologies for any pain I may have caused. Please don’t let my slip-up stop you from visiting this Arsenal blog.

      Thanks.

    • Victor Thompson December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      Dear Martin,

      Please see my reply to Leverhulme Blue.

      Victor Thompson

  3. Victor Thompson December 28, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    Hi Nick,

    I share your views entirely. I sent a comment to Alex`s article today but he is in the middle of his exams so I have not had his reply. I was going to present it as an article but as it was almost entirely about the issues raised by him I sent it as a comment.

    I can only say that should it be published you will find that I have said almost all of what is contained in your article. I too am being lambasted by people who simply want to follow Arsene blindly. Those of us who prefer to question his methods are somehow traitors or “plastic fans”.

    I would ask them that when he makes repetitive mistakes every season, then how do they assist him to correct those mistakes when they slavishly follow him? Is it not a case of the blind leading the blind and that neither gains from it. Fortunately, there are fans like you and I who do care enough about the development of the club to voice our criticisms in the hope that those mistakes are eliminated. Who is the real supporter in that case?

    Victor Thompson

  4. Andrew Jakes December 29, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    I have to question what article Levenshulme Blue and Martin were reading as their comments hold no relevance to the article that I’ve just read.

    The author is rightly criticising the idiots who call other supporters plastic for daring to say the team played absolutely terrible against Southampton, they did, plain and simple.

    I haven’t commented on any articles before but I have noticed that you seem to get a lot of idiots who become brave and abusive whenever someone published a truthful blog, Nick, you are spot on mate.

  5. Nick Birch December 29, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    As the author of this article, I would like to clarify that I am not responsible for calling Manchester City fans plastic and had no input with regards any of the images used to illustrate the article….

    • Batmandela December 29, 2015 at 11:55 am #

      Nick – I apologize for any grief my image may have caused you. I explained to those lovely City fans what happened, and I promise not to do it again. Here is what I wrote them, in case you don’t see the response below. Apologies.

      The author of the article was not responsible for the images – that was me.

      I apologize for any anguish I may have caused to citizens reading this Arsenal blog by adding an image of an actual plastic fan with the Manchester City logo… I meant to use the Manchester United logo. In my haste I did a Google search for ‘Manchester FC logo’ and seem to have inadvertently used your logo instead.

      It has been corrected now.

      Everybody knows that the millions of Manchester City fans that seem to have sprung up since you started winning stuff were there the whole time. It was silly – though accidental as pointed out above – to imply anything different.

      I must admit, though – your logo looked much better on the fan. Perhaps because the fan is pale blue and white, like your logo. It’s very hard to find a red and yellow plastic fan that goes with the Man Utd logo – doesn’t seem to be much call for them.

      Anyhow, as I said earlier – apologies for any pain I may have caused. Please don’t let my slip-up stop you from visiting this Arsenal blog.

      Thanks.

      • Nick Birch December 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

        No worries Batmandela, Iol.

        Agree completely Victor and thanks for your intelligent response.

        • Victor Thompson December 29, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

          Youre welcome Nick

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