I feel like in the last couple of months I’ve traveled every road in terms of covering Arsenal losses. Home and away, league and Europe, big and small margin, tough opponents and weaker sides, mostly bearable and totally destructive.
Yesterday’s loss to Spurs probably wasn’t anything I hasn’t been party to. As someone rightly noted after the game, had it not been a North London derby, it would have been just another predictable surrender to a stronger team.
I have watched Tottenham play now and again this season. Mostly big matches, I simply don’t have the time to follow two teams on a consistent basis, especially when they clash on matchdays. There is never a question of whether I watch some other game when Arsenal plays football. I’ve binned quite a few meaty affairs even this season to give my undivided attention to the Gunners, whoever and however they were playing.
However I quite liked what I saw from Spurs when I got to see them in action. Yes, they lost games too, I don’t even need to go far back to point you to a loss: Chelsea in the cup. But for some truly magical footwork and a slice of luck, the Blues weren’t much better than Spurs though.
It hurts me to say this, but Tottenham look a real team, a unit. They play with a sense of purpose, the players understand what’s required of them and they do it. Yesterday Tottenham were much, much better than us, and not only because we were utter garbage.
They were a bit lucky with the goals, but it doesn’t change the fact Pochettino’s men thoroughly deserved the win and were good value for it. If they hold off United on May 14 (shouldn’t be a monumental problem), they’ll go an entire campaign unbeaten at home. Drawing a maximum of three times out of 19 attempts. Spurs have a better goal difference than Chelsea, they are still in the race with four games to go and they are already well past their best-ever total points in the league. They can in fact finish on 89 points and if they don’t win the league with such a haul, bested only twice in the entire history of the competition, they’ll have every right to feel aggrieved.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want them to win, hell no. In fact I also don’t want Chelsea to win, but beggars can’t be choosers. I was merely making a point how good Spurs are this season and how they seemed to have learnt the lessons of the past campaign.
It is in stark contrast to Arsenal. We haven’t progressed from last season, and last season was a regression on the previous, whatever our league position was. Our points total was less impressive, that’s all I need to know. And barring four wins in five remaining games, our total this season won’t be better than in 2016. Want a bet we won’t amass 12+ points before the end of May?
But what I’m truly saddened by, is our lack of progress on the pitch. We don’t look competitive at all. We are behind Mourinho’s United, who we’ve laughing at most season, that’s how bad it is. We can finish below Everton for that matter if we don’t get a grip.
However I’m not hopeful we will. Whatever marginal improvement our last three games represented was undone yesterday, undone spectacularly. It is clear the problem is not the system. It probably was clear before the switch to a 3-4-2-1, but I desperately wanted to believe there’s some salvation, some way to stop the slide into mediocrity. To the extent I turned a blind eye on stats saying we haven’t really improved and just hit a purple patch in terms of luck. Our purple patch brought us a win over relegation strugglers, a late minute own-goal to beat Leicester at home and, yes, a win over City. A game which showed some real promise, but the light of it flickered and went out.
We are left in the dark again, stumbling around in search of … something. Anything that can end the misery. And I don’t see a solution. I’m fearful Arsene Wenger doesn’t too. Yes, I’m pinning my hopes on him, simply because he will stay till the end of the season at the very least, and if he doesn’t find an answer …
Well, nothing will really happen. We are already in a mess. Worst-case scenario is 7th league place, just one below our current position and a lost FA Cup final. It will heap some more misery on everyone, but we have hit the bottom at this point. Sinking a further few inches won’t make much difference.
A club which was supposed to compete for top honours after the stadium move is becoming less competitive as seasons go by. Our best team in a decade looks our worst team in a decade. And there’s no desire, or indeed, gut, from anyone to stand up and admit it’s all wrong. Shoulder the blame. Man up.
Our manager lives in fear of retiring and probably won’t. Our Chief Executive can’t put pressure on him, as can’t any other board member. Our owner probably doesn’t even know we lost a game this weekend. Fifth away game out of last six. He probably doesn’t even know there was a game.
So we slumber on, hoping … I don’t even know what for. I don’t know what’s happening inside the heads of those in power at Arsenal if they look at the current state and think it’s alright and should be kept as is. I give up.
I will of course be here with you suffering through the remainder of this sorry season. The only thing about Arsenal currently giving me some sort of consolation is knowing I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Take care and see you for the United game next weekend.
Oh, and thank you, Petr Cech.