The pre-season is officially over with and it ends with a sort of sloppy fart rather that the trumpet of victory that we’d all have liked. Oh well, it’s pre-season and I don’t think we should read too much into it. If we don’t take winning the Emirates Cup too seriously, we also can’t take losing 2-0 at the Mestalla at the end of a grueling training camp with a side full of players who didn’t play a minute together all pre-season, erm, too seriously.
I will say basically what I said in the comments yesterday which is that I thought Arsenal played very well in the first half. Diaby looked a bit rusty and ponderous but he’s certainly bulked up quite a bit since last year. Song looked quite the business breaking up attacks and shielding the back 4. For those who complained about his “fouling” well, that’s what I want him to do! Arsenal need someone like that on this club, even Theo admits that.
Up front we had a damn fine attack which just seemed a little tired rather than lacking teeth as in previous campaigns. Arshavin in particular looked jaded and more than once I was quite disappointed with his lack of movement. But rather than get all up on him about it, I just figure he’s probably never trained this hard in his entire life and since I’ve seen him turn it on more than once I trust that he’ll do it when the chips are down.
At the back, our fullbacks looked fantastic, as they always have, and I would like to be the first to hail them Backary Sagna as possible “hairstyle of the season.” He’s shorn off the beads and now has just gone with dyed braids. It’s quite magnificent.
Questions remain at the center back position and I’m going to just come out and say it: that is not because Djourou or Gallas are crap, it’s because of Arsene’s system. Arsene’s system has seen some of the world’s best center half’s used up and spit out: Sol Campbell, Phillipe Senderos, and William Gallas have all had spectacular mental breakdowns playing in Arsene Wenger’s system. The high line, ball holdery, offense-as-defense system that Arsenal play requires a specific type of center back (someone with quick recovery, is intelligent, who can handle the pressure of being constantly exposed, and is able to make desperation tackles) which, in turn, means that Arsenal don’t generally have the height to defend well from set pieces.
It’s the system and if anyone should come in for criticism, it’s Arsene Wenger. I don’t want to get down on Djourou, he’s a fine young man who gives everything to the cause and is just doing what the boss asks of him. And as for Wenger, personally, I trust Arsene Wenger to see any problems in his system and fix them. He’s the most successful, longest serving, manager in Arsenal history, if anyone sees a problem in this team, it’s Arsene Wenger.
Which raises THE question, the one thing that I’d really like to put to bed here once and for all — can we criticize the team?
Yes, sure, why not? Personally, I’m going to try not to do it this season but I completely understand where that comes from. By and large the people who criticize the team and the players do so out of love. Maybe they are mad that we don’t play the way we did 5 years ago? Maybe they have a keen insight that I don’t have? I don’t know and really, I don’t care. If people want to get on some blog and talk about what shit so and so is or how worried they are about such and such, let them. Eventually they’ll either stop supporting Arsenal or they’ll learn to stop worrying about everything so damn much.
What I won’t stand for is fans booing at the Emirates, or fans taking the piss out of the manager and players face-to-face. Save that shit for the blogs. In real life, try to be respectful and if you can’t do that then maybe you should find a pack of cunts that would better suit your mentality; Chelsea come quickly to mind.
I also want to mention that just because someone criticizes a player in the comments on a blog, it doesn’t make them “doom and gloomers.” A “doom and gloomer” is someone who worries constantly that Arsenal aren’t going to make the top 6, that Cesc is going to leave half way through the season, etc etc. That term is used quite a bit to describe anyone who ever criticizes anything about the club and has basically worn out it’s welcome with me. Let’s stop using it.
Anyway, my basic approach this season is going to be positive. Positive toward the fans, positive toward the team, the manager, and the club. We have enough people out there being negative that you don’t need it from me as well. I’m not going to be a Pollyanna and I will be honest about a player when he has a bad game, but I think I’ll try to keep it to just that one game rather than see it as a flaw in the player as a whole. Same thing with the club and the manager.
If I have any insight into this club to pass on right now, it would be that I think I can let go of all the criticisms because I think that this club and these players are doing the best that they can with the resources they have. One of the things that Jon Spurling shows us with his book Rebels for the Cause, is that Arsenal have a long and proud history of doing things their own way. Wenger is just another in a long line of iconoclasts, and I would expect no less of him that to follow in that proud tradition. If the last four years have taught us anything it’s that Wenger is doing this his way, you may not like the way he’s doing it, and that’s your right, but me? I trust Arsene Wenger.
Anyway, we’re going to have a full season preview on Thursday, where I will blow so much lovely smoke up your ass you’ll think you’re a chimney, until then the blogs are going to be relatively light as I expect that there won’t be much news. Try to enjoy the week as much as you can, maybe get out, run around, play a little football, enjoy the end of summer.
Football starts in earnest next week, and I expect so too does the hand-wringing.