The title race could be over for both Arsenal and Leicester this weekend

If Arsenal and Leicester manage a draw then both teams will have earned just one point from their first two matches and according to Sporting Intelligence no team has won the League with fewer than two points in their first two matches in 23 years. It could very well be a case that the season is over for both Arsenal and Leicester before September.

Both Sporting Intelligence and I recognize that the stat above is one of those silly stats that get splashed all over the television before games. These are trend stats and they appeal to sports fans for various reasons. But they shouldn’t be trusted at all, ever.

These are the same types of stats that you will hear broadcasters say in the middle of games, things like “Arsenal have never dropped points from a match after taking a four-goal lead in the first half.” That was a real stat from the 4-4 draw against Newcastle. A match in which Arsenal did, in fact, drop points.

The reality for both Arsenal and Leicester is that there will be 36 matches left to play and plenty of time for both teams to mount a serious title challenge. Again, I need to stress here that I am not having a jab at Sporting Intelligence, they say the exact same thing I just said. Just because the trend has gone that way for 23 consecutive years doesn’t mean that it will continue.

I have put off predicting the League finish this season because the transfer window is still open. It is difficult to predict how teams will do if the teams aren’t settled and I don’t want to have people come back to me in 2 weeks and complain that I have changed my predictions after the transfer window closes. A great example is that if Arsenal take Lukaku off Everton that would dramatically alter both teams’ projected finishes.

As it stands right now, I have Man U winning the League. That is down to the fact that they have Zlatan, Mkhitaryan, and Pogba and that those three push them from a solid team to a team with potential to win the League. I’m not basing that prediction off any armchair psychology, nor off the fact that they have Mou Mou woup as manager, just down to the fact that Zlatan scores buckets of goals. If Arsenal were to sign a 20 goal striker, or if Arsenal were to manufacture one from Theo Walcott, they should easily finish top four and possibly challenge for the title. But, like I said, that prediction has to wait until Arsenal finally close their transfer window.

As for the match tomorrow, Arsenal have the streak stats in their favor. They were the only team to beat Leicester home and away last season and they have held a “hoodoo” over them for something like 19 matches. And just like the stat that “no team has won the League blah blah” the previous record between the two teams is meaningless.

The most important consideration is that Arsenal are missing their League-leading playmaker in Mesut Özil and their leading scorer in Olivier Giroud. Much has been made of the makeshift back four and the four goals they shipped in the opening day defeat to Liverpool. The punditocracy are clamoring for Wenger to start Koscielny but everyone who watched that match saw that the real problem was that the midfield didn’t close down space and watched insipidly as Liverpool passed the ball around with ease.

Leicester will pose a different problem than Liverpool, however.

Leicester will try to goad Arsenal into a match that will play right into their hands. Without Olivier Giroud or really any aerial threat, Leicester should be able to sit comfortably back and defend their box. And since they will start with Vardy and with PFA Player of the Year Mahrez both of whom thrive on counter attacking football we know what Leicester’s plan will be from the start.

Since Arsenal will have no problems getting the ball forward but will need extra cover for the large spaces over the top, I expect Coquelin to start. Beside Coquelin, I think Wenger will install Xhaka and Cazorla for their ball control and ability to pick passes. Up front, Arsenal will need a tricky dribbler to help unlock space and I expect Ox or Iwobi to start on the right with Alexis on the left and Walcott as the forward.

I doubt we will see a repeat of the 5-2 of last season. That match was hallmarked by a lack of control by either team. It was a lot of fun and I would love to see these two teams go at each other again but I think that match, more than any other, radically changed Ranieri’s approach to these games. Instead, we should see a much more cagey fixture like the 2-1 win from February. That match featured a late winner from Welbeck, who won’t be available tomorrow.

The good news for Arsenal supporters is that both Walcott and Alexis feasted on Leicester’s defense last season and both players will be available for tomorrow’s match. If Arsenal’s midfielders, Xhaka and Cazorla, can find them between the lines, they could get all three points. If not, it’s going to be a long day for Arsenal.

Qq

96 Comments on The title race could be over for both Arsenal and Leicester this weekend

  1. As much as I am down on our prospects this season, I think we win at Leicester; they’re experiencing quite a hangover and I don’t think we’ll have Xhaka/Elneny/Cazorla in midfield, that’s a handful for a team without Kante.

  2. Last season, Juventus won the League after having only one point after three games, although this stat is probably for PL teams.
    As for the rest, I also believe ManU will win the League, just because life is sucky for Arsenal fans.
    By the way, Iwobi is out for a month, so probably Wenger will go for Alexis, Walcott and Ox, although I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Giroud at some point.
    I believe this will be a draw.

  3. I don’t want to be a negative creep but I simply cannot see Arsenal win the title. Last year with such a weakened league, they could not win it and now with the resurgence of Chelsea, Man U and Man City, I really don see to much chance. Especially considering the fact that it is pretty much the same team that we had last year. Don’t see much changing. Although I do feel we will finish in the top 4.

  4. Tim – Just wondering what your opinion of Coquelin is compared to Elneny. I saw a lot of spite towards Coq on twitter and many felt he should not be starting. Not sure what changed from last season when a lot of them referred to him a savior (although he did have his critics from not being Makalele esque.
    I felt as a natural defensive midfielder, it is better off we started with someone like Coq who is better a recycling the ball (doing the donkey work) than someone like Elneny who seems to be more of a box to box midfielder. Coq, Xhaka and Cazorla/Ozil seems more balanced to me than having Elneny in the mix. Not sure what you think?

    • Wasn’t Coquelin the initiator of Walcott’s goal last week? Slide tackle, collect the ball, play it to Iwobi who sets up Walcott. Coquelin can be an important player but I don’t think Wenger rates him.

    • Coquelin is great when Arsenal don’t have the ball but a liability in possession. A lot of the Arsenal tacticscosngetti hate Coquelin because he’s not good with the ball. What’s interesting is that these same people seem to think Elneny isn’t a liability defensively and he is. If we could somehow get Elneny and Coquelin to merge into one player he would be perfect.

      I actually think Wenger took Elneny off because he blamed the Egyptian for Liverpool’s ability to cut through Arsenal’s midfield like butter.

      I would be surprised if Wenger starts Elneny.

      • Exactly, Tim. I also think a hybrid of Elneny and Coquelin will be a tremendous player. On Coquelin, like what happened in the Liverpool match, everytime our centreback or Elneny have the ball, i always scream in my head “where is coquelin?”. Ironically, when he had the ball in our own third, i got scared by the potential of him getting press and after that he got dispossesed by the liverpool press. This kind of thing is a huge problem because we’re a possession based club who will get a lot of possession. One less player that can help the team in possession will hurt us on our ability to break team down, which might also give the opponent a chance to counter.

        On Elneny, i already notice his flaw on his first few games last season. He seems to be too passive when approaching opponent players. I thought it was down to him not yet acclimatized to PL, but when he still too passive in the Liverpool match, it might be a problem of his style of defending. He is too risk averse, which shows when we have the ball, he is the one who approach the ball the most, so that the team don’t try to risk losing the ball, but also don’t try to engage the opponent too when don’t have the ball, because of the risk of the opponent getting passed him. Although, to be fair, a team based approach to defending will help his flaw, whereas Coquelin, at the moment won’t improve if he himself won’t improve.

          • It’s not exactly about his passing ability, but more to do with his intelligence on and off possession. To be fair to both Coquelin and Elneny, i think if both of them have more confidence (confidence to have the ball or confidence to engage and win the ball), it will do them wonders. I’ve seen Coquelin take on opponent player and won, and Elneny long range shots shows that he can took risk. I think they can still improve on their flaw and confidence is one of the panacea.

  5. Sorry all, Iwobi is not available for this match due to injury. So, my guess is Ox on the right.

    Naturally, that means Joel Campbell will start…

  6. I think and do hope it’s Walcott on front with Sanchez and Campbell on the flanks.Cazorla on number 10 and coq xhaka pivot followed by nacho chambers/kos holding and bellerin cech..experience and balance in the tempo has got to be the key. Playing for a draw in a very pragmatic manner, keeping the field compact and every player switched on defensively and we might get a win…go gungho and set up for counter attack, we will lose bad.

  7. I had a nightmare last night. We were playing Leicester and it was 1-1 with goals by Alexis and Vardy. In added time we foul, leave a hole in the wall and Mahrez beats Czech with a “Coutinho” like free kick.

    Deja vu !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Ah, there was a time, young Jeremy. There was a time I’d look at an upcoming fixture and think, ‘we got this’. Many moons ago.

        But I think my pessimism (realism?) is down to how unprepared we are going into this season. I just don’t see our center-backs coping with Leicester’s counterattack, and we don’t have a recognizable striker in the team, so yeah, we’re dropping points tomorrow.

  8. I see us getting a point out of this, Bunburyist. If Chambers plays, Vardy will rip him a new one. So we’ll have one point from two games, an early gap of 5 points with United, who will win the league. My season prediction is:

    United
    City
    Chelsea
    Arsenal
    Spurs
    Liverpool
    Leicester
    West Ham

    We’ll finish in the Top 4. It’s what we do.

  9. If you want to see a truly underprepared team..look no further than southampton…horror…Man utd getting 2 gifts in 2 games

  10. Ibrahimovic was a great addition by United. It’s hard not to compare. They sign a proven goalscorer with zero fuss, while we get rejected by Vardy and make a half-hearted attempt to lure Lacazette.

    I harbor some dim hope we’ll sign a defender this summer, but I’m 100% certain we’re not buying a striker this summer.

    • Well, I was banging the drum for Ibra a year ago when he was at PSG. That’s not to say we’d have got him… just a recognition of what he can offer. Big, but silky. Will beat hard-ass defenders to headers (like Giroud), plus bring skill and speed on the ground. He’ll give em at least one good year, but his calibre is undoubted. Call it the Van Persie effect.

    • Arsenal are not buying a striker.

      http://www.espnfc.com/arsenal/story/2933196/arsenals-alexis-sanchez-can-be-like-luis-suarez-up-front-arsene-wenger

      This is the quote… the quote of the decade from Wenger.

      “It is an important season for Theo, because last year he had a difficult period,” Wenger said. “He can play as a striker and his numbers are excellent when he plays up front. We have Giroud, Sanchez, Walcott, Akpom and [Yaya] Sanogo who is still here but is injured at the moment — the players we buy have to be better. … Look, I believe a club like ours is focused on giving chances to the players we develop in our own club. We have a few strikers who have a chance, if we find the right players we buy.

      “But if you ask people ‘give me names’ … you see that it is not that easy — look at a club like Real Madrid, who have they bought? Up front, it is very difficult.”

      He doesn’t even know that they bought Morata.

      • So infuriating. In what universe is Walcott, Akpom, and Sanogo legitimate striker options for a club challenging for a title?

        The answer: This is not a club with title aspirations. The gamble isn’t on whether we can win a title with such a paucity of options. The gamble is whether they’re good enough for the top four. Honestly, looking at our rivals, I’m not sure we’re even good enough for that this season.

        • The Theo thing is so weird. He wants to play up front instead of on the wings but Arsene doesn’t seem to want to play him there. Then Theo gives up on the forward position and wants to go back on the wing, so Arsene wants to play him up front.

          I could understand it as a stop gap measure, or for certain games but neither of them seem to really be sure or clear or, at the very least, on the same page as to what’s he’s best position.

          After ten years, that’s hard to believe.

          • Is it hard to believe?

            I don’t think we know what Wilshere’s best position is, Ramsey’s best position, this seems to happen a lot with the English players at Arsenal. Not sure why.

      • I guess we’ll scramble someone quite average on January 30th after a underwhelming first half to the season that leaves us 7th or 8th, 18-25pts behind United.

  11. Even now at his age, Ibra is The Man. It is a huge boost to the EPL to have the Zlatan at the twilight of his career because twilight schwilight, the man is scoring goals left, right and center.

  12. Leicester is missing Kante right now and until they properly adjust to his absence teams have a real chance against them. Except us of course.

    Leicester are licking their chops over doing us over especially after doing the double on them last year plus that like us, they dropped 3 points to begin their season.

    I’lol never stop, but I hate being a Gooner right now more than since Wenger took over the lab and we were asking each other, WTF? Who is this dude? This dude now has a target painted more squarely on his back than at other time in his long tenure.

  13. alexis is not like suarez. if he were, he’d still be at barcelona. they tried him as a center forward to replace david villa and he failed. he didn’t fail because he’s a bad player. it’s because they needed a center forward and he’s not a center forward. even chile won’t play him at center forward. this is truly infuriating. arsenal could have messi and wenger would likely try him out at center forward too instead of signing a proper center forward.

    i swear, this guy. if you’re a striker that can’t play center forward, don’t come to arsenal. arsene wenger will ruin your career. he’s done it with, essentially, every striker that’s come to arsenal in the past decade since arsenal went away from two strikers. except for alexis, name one striker that’s found success in that time? it’s not a coincidence. i’d rather wenger play iwobi than try and force alexis up top. at least iwobi’s a center forward but i think he needs another loan.

    as for tomorrow, wenger won’t play theo up top, he’ll play alexis up there.

  14. If Arsenal were a man or woman, most people would’ve broken up with them by now.

    What other fans blindly put such faith in their club and manager? It’s the blind leading the blind, here at Arsenal, and it feels like we’re on a sinking ship.

    I won’t stop supporting the team, no sire, but man, at times I feel like taking a break away from EPL football and find solace in a serious second team. It seems like only Arsene and Arsenal are content with the status quo and dont seek improvement, and after reading Invincible, I can’t fathom why.

    Oh how the mighty have fallen 🙁

    • I know at times it feels like we’re not improving, and we don’t have as many big name players as we used to have 10 or so years ago, but if you judge the current team on results, they’re doing pretty well.

      In each of the last 3 years we’ve improved our final league position, going from 4th to 3rd to, most recently, 2nd. We’ve gone from winning nothing to winning 2 fa cups.
      And we’ve gone from players like Almunia, Denilson and Bendtner to players like Cech, Ozil and Sanchez.

      I guess i’m just saying that I don’t think things are as bad as we’re constantly told they are, and while we definitely could be doing better, I don’t think we’re quite a sinking ship.

      • Second place last season was a gift from Spurs. Arsenal’s second half of the season was as bad as a mid-table club, this is from an xG perspective. The only reason why we finished second was because Spurs had an absolutely shameful collapse in their last 3 games.

  15. Sure we relied on other teams to mess up, but isn’t that just football in general, or at least a huge part of it?

    I know we were unconvincing last year, especially in the home stretch, but as bad as we were, weren’t we better than 18 other teams, amongst them United, City, Chelsea, Spurs, and Liverpool? Were Leicester not really the best team last year because they’re not really the ‘best’ team. What does final league position signify then if not a grading of which team was the best and how each team is doing?

    I do get what your saying about our form, but how do you ultimately judge a team or a season then? Is it on final league position, or points, or goals scored, or style or something else? Conventional wisdom seems to be that the bottom line is final league position, and that a boring win is preferable to an exciting loss. At least that seemed the case until recently.

    I guess I find it surprising that our final league position over the last few years apparently means so little now. It’s almost as if it’s other things, and not final league position that’s most important now. 4th to 3rd to 2nd is no longer ‘progress’, but an almost inconsequential bi product of a number of other factors that are way more important.

    Like how some Arsenal fans are constantly talking about how great Klopp is, and Liverpool’s amazing press, and how he’s a way better manager, even though he/they finished 11 points behind an Arsenal team they think is brittle, has no spine, has no leaders, is injury prone, is defensively naive, isn’t really up for a fight and doesn’t do tactics.

    Like imagine if you knew nothing about football and you asked me how my team is doing. And I say that after years without a trophy we’ve won 2 in the last 3 years. Our league position in the last 3 years has been 4th, 3rd and 2nd.

    Does that sound like a sinking ship?

    • So you’re saying you know nothing about football?You make a convincing argument.I’m inclined to agree.

      • Thanks for your considered response to something I tried to articulate as best I could. As you say, I obviously no nothing about football. My one regret, after reading your counterpoints, is that i’ve learned nothing from your considerable wisdom.

  16. I think that comment became a bit of a ramble Tim.

    I know final league position isn’t ‘everything’ all of the time. Stuff like a team’s history, expectations, circumstances also provide context. I guess I’m surprised at just how ‘little’ our recent final league positions seem to matter. Without context, it seems like we’re doing pretty well, or at least not too bad.

    • It’s the collapses within those positions. Leading the league by Jan, then play like a bunch of Evertonians for 15 games and just scramble 2nd due to circumstances.

      True progress would be those collapses happening less often and for shorter stretches.

  17. Jeremy, you’re missing the point of fans’ frustrations. Let me explain. Two seasons ago we finished 3rd. What the fans expected was that the management would take an analytical approach to where our rivals beat us (goals scored and midfield needed serious investment and upgrade) and address that. He bought only a goalkeeper.

    Two seasons ago we started with one fit striker, Giroud. He predictably broke down. A few seasons ago we led the table fairly deep into the season. We collapsed to fourth. So those finishes you cite need to be put in context.

    This, you know, has been going on for 5, 6 years. Wenger does not address the known and obvious weaknesses in the squad.

    Do you really believe that we could not find a goalscorer of Van Persie’s quality since he left 4 years ago? That we bid for Bender, Lacazette, Draxler and many others once, were quoted a price and never got back in touch with the seller? That in the month we’ve been sniffing around Mustafi we made ONE bid 3 weeks ago? That we bid 29m on Lacazette, and never contacted Lyon again. Do we want the player or not? Why does a month have to go by between bids?

    We are frustrated with Arsene because he is presiding over a clearly dysfunctional transfer operation, that causes us to start seasons under-cooked. One win in 7 is its own damaging indictment, and something that rarely occurred early in his reign. It took the trauma of a hammering at Old Trafford on August 28th 2011 to bring in players we’d been dithering over for months, right on the edge of the transfer window.

    This is not a debate about Arsene’s legacy, or his contribution to the club. Detractors and backers alike agree on that.

    No one’s doing more to undermine Arsene’s legacy than Arsene.

  18. And by the way, the scale of our collapse between January and March is a firing offence at most clubs. Second is good, but again, context. Leicester won the league by 10 points. That our rivals were uniformly awful — a condition that they’re unlikely to gift us again en masse — is a big part of that story. All the more reason to regret not undertaking the essential upgrades.

    • Thanks for the reply claudeivan. I appreciate you put forward your point of view without any personal abuse. If anyone’s going to change my mind on how I see these things it’s not going to be done by having a personal dig at me or throwing insults. I know my perspective on the club is much different from most of you guys on here and the points I try to get across or understand can be like a red rag to a bull to some people who are far more angry or frustrated than I am. I can’t help it that I’m fairly relaxed on Arsenal matters. Maybe if I attended games I would feel different. I don’t know.

      Disappointed we didn’t get the win today.

      • I’m not above throwing an elbow (not consciously, though), but generally I agree that we can disagree agreeably. I guess going to games gives you a much different perspective, but your support is no less valuable than mine.

      • Jeremy, you’re not alone buddy. There is a silent majority of gunners who are fairly much more relaxed than the folks who regularly air their views online, which I view to be a fast track to radicalization towards a particular point of view, since you can surround yourself with others who tend to think like you. This amplification of marginal views is a novel phenomenon with the age of social media and blogs, and its impact is much broader than football.. but we feel it too. I tend to find Arsenal far more enjoyable when I stay away from the online discourse, but it’s also no fun to be a fan by myself, so I keep coming back…

        • “There is a silent majority of gunners who are fairly much more relaxed than the folks who regularly air their views online…”

          I can assure you that is a fallacy. It’s what you want to believe. It isn’t true. Hard to measure it empirically, but believe me there’s nothing “relaxed” about the prevailing mood in goonerdom. To assert that the majority of gooners are relaxed about what is going on is Chemical Ali stuff. And Arsene knows that the mood is poisonous. His press conferences, like the post match today, are excruciating. He was tense and irritable, fingering his collar regularly. A pretty good guide is the number of people (including our blog host) who have bailed from the good ship Arsene. It is simply a gradual and gathering loss of patience.

          To Jeremy’s point, a good experimept would be to try going to games sometime and mingling with fans over a post-match pint. I doubt that someone as smart and analytical as you would hold fast to that opinion.

          • Regarding the overall mood claudeivan. I was more willing to believe there was, in fact, a huge angry majority last year before the big planned protest.

            Online, at least, there seemed to be a kind of certainty that it was going to be a huge deal, and a real show of strength of feeling regarding people’s unhappiness with the club.

            When the time came, inside the ground at least, the reports I read we’re that a majority of fans stood up and shouted down those that were protesting, and a chant of One Arsene Wenger was sung.

            Afterwards, it seemed to me at least, some people who had been sure how massive the protest would be started to make and number of excuses so as not to really admit what had happened. They said that most of the dissenting voices had in fact shown their displeasure by not showing up, or that those who showed displeasure at the protest, just didn’t want to protest at that time, or during that game, or that more people did want to protest but were afraid of repercussions from those around them. Looking from the outside, it seemed like people who would have taken a successful majority protest as a true reflection of the feelings of the fans, were unwilling to see the overall majority, who stood up in protest at the protest, as a sign of the real feelings of the fans. I’m not saying that people aren’t upset or frustrated or angry, or even that those who shouted down the protest AREN’T upset or frustrated or angry, but people evidently weren’t as upset as online discourse led us to believe. Or at least that’s how it seemed.

            I appreciate this is perhaps a very touchy subject. I wasn’t at the game, and am just trying to present how that protest was,at least, reported. Maybe that’s not an accurate representation of what went down. But you can perhaps see how someone who doesn’t go to games, like me,
            interpreted how that protest was received, as a sign that general sentiment was not as bad as we have constantly been told online. Again I’m not suggesting that people aren’t angry or frustrated, many people obviously are, but that day seemed to suggest that the MAJORITY of the crowd that day were not so angry that they wanted to protest and send a clear message of dissatisfaction to the manager and the club.

            I don’t want to make light of your own frustrations. If you were there that day I’d appreciate your own interpretation of what went down that day. Even if you weren’t there, I’d be interested in your own thoughts on that protest in general.

          • Jeremy, I haven’t been to a game in a year and a half. I moved to the sunny Caribbean for work early last year. So I was not there that day. Gooners are not pitchfork people by nature. We may be one of most white-collar clubs in the league — certainly one of the most affluent support, even moreso than Chelsea’s, which is very traditional white working class (and latterly success, nouveau riche bandwagonists). I’m not saying that white collar supporters can’t get vocal, but it’s simply not the nature of gooners. That why Highbury was called the Library.

            I myself have criticised publicly booing the team or the manager at the stadium. I would never, ever do that. And many people feel the way I do. The singing was to show appreciation for what he has done, not an endorsement of what he is currently doing. They are people like me who have grown skeptical, but abhor the spectacle of a public lynching of Wenger. Believe it or not, it’s possible to hold both positions.

            Thank you too for the polite exchange of differences, and allowing me to explain.

          • Claude, there can be little doubting that there is a psychological phenomenon associated with online blogging and online exchange that has changed how fans access the game and view the sport. Within these realms, certain individuals carry a big influence (arseblog being one of them) and pre-existing divides in the fan base can be further accentuated not only because of the changing times but because suddenly we have such a broad access to the opinion of others. Each faction becomes more and more entrenched in their own views because the views of the opposition are presented in increasingly frenzied shades of insanity, and the independent middle class dwindles as pressure is felt to choose a side. It’s the natural thing to insist we’re untouched by all of this internet nonsense, but the reality of it is that all of us are influenced by it. In effect this is like insisting we are not influence by advertising or by sponsorship. It’s bogus. Everything you read and everyone you meet figures in some small way into your thinking and therefore your actions.

            A truly untouched football experience would be like the 1920’s: you would buy your tickets, go to the match, and go to bed without having any exposure to match of the day, sky sports coverage, the halftime analysis, the manager’s post match comments, twitter/facebook, etc. etc. It even includes extended exposure to other fans, because we are all neck deep in all of the above. This kind of football experience doesn’t exist anymore. We live in a hive where ripples of emotions and thoughts influence every member of the community. Some react by embracing, some by rejecting, but nobody is untouched.

            My view though is that most gooners are not as absorbed in the day to day drama, the increasingly polarized views, and the general frustration/hysteria/whatever you want to call it as the ones who frequent chats, blogs and social media. As a result, their exposure to dialogue like the one we’re having, or far worse forms of it, is less and as a result they have more patience for the views of others and for the foibles of the club. This is why I believe the Wenger Out protest never got any traction, this is why I believe there has been no large scale protest despite years of the same type of outrage, and ultimately why Arsene Wenger is still manager of Arsenal. I still believe a slight majority of gooners have an ongoing, if waning, appreciation of who he is and what he’s trying to do.

        • To add, journalists simply feed off fan sentiment and anxiety about poor transfer planning in bombaring him with questions about it.

          The mood is pretty bad.

          And by the way Jeremy… if we are first at Christmas and New Year, we are going to be frustrated with coming 3rd or even 2nd. Particularly if nothing that could have made the difference was done to address known, obvious weaknesses.

          He’s in effect telling us that we can’t improve on Walcott in the market. Which is balls, of course. And gooners know it.

        • Sorry, Doc, you’re wrong. I form my opinions based on what I see on the pitch and how I see the club reacting to it. Arseblog’s post today about how condescending it is to assume fan frustration is a product of the media / social media makes such a great point in this regard.

          • No less condescending than refusing to accept alternate views as equal in merit to one’s own. The proof of what I’m saying was made crystal clear by the lack of support for the Wenger Out protest at the stadium at the tail end of last season.

          • Refusing to accept the equal validity of everyone’s ideas is not condescending. I don’t know where that idea comes from, but it’s deeply irrational. However, to assume that our ideas are a fabrication of the media is condescending. How about this: I won’t tell you who constructs your ideas if you won’t tell me where who constructs mine. That way we can try to debate in a court of reason or at the very least (since football fandom is inherently emotional) honoring that people are able to make their own judgments on the information they’re given.

          • And by the way, the lack of wholesale support of the A4 protest is not “crystal clear proof” of your point. People don’t join in public protests for a variety of social and psychological reasons, many of them having nothing to do with their personal convictions.

          • Don’t you think that being told: “Nope, you’re wrong” and then explaining that your own views of the sport are pure and untainted seems pretty condescending?

          • Here’s what I said: “I form my opinions based on what I see on the pitch and how I see the club reacting to it.”

            “my opinions” “what I see” “how I see”

            According to you, that’s a claim for pure and untainted?

  19. What stood out for me in that game was Granit Xhaka. With or without the ball, he was immense in midfield for us. We have really missed a presence like that ever since the glory days of Arteta. His forward passes were all hit with the purpose of breaking the lines and his little touches when recycling possession were astute. He was caught on the ball once but other than that, a standout performance. Another standout was Laurent Koscielny. I don’t think we keep a clean sheet today without him and he clearly won his duel with Vardy. Between the collective defensive effort of midfield and improved cohesion in the back line, I don’t think Leicester recorded a shot on target for most of the match. Holding played his part in that too.

    What stood out in a negative sense was that we hardly got anything out of Alexis, and it’s not just because got swallowed up as a center forward by experienced center backs. His movement, his quickness, his touch are all just a bit off. He doesn’t look to be 100% match fit or 100% injury free. Our attack lacked a focal point and it’s why we spent the majority of the match pushing it around in harmless positions. The absence of Mesut Ozil further blunted our blade. Walcott and Chamberlain were too passive and could not influence the game.

    From a tactical point of view there was a clear emphasis on not committing too much in the first half, then we became a little too open near the end after Wenger went whole hog on creative players from the bench. This team should get a lot better even without signings, but we cannot afford to lose any more points and it’s hard to see where the goals are coming from right now. Not a bad result in isolation but the way the game played out we did enough to win it, but like last season, there was nobody to score the crucial goal that would’ve won it.

    • Xhaka does look like a player however he was caught on the ball more than once, one of which led to perhaps the best chance of the game. Still, an encouraging performance. What this game really showed was how much we miss Ozil. We immediately looked more dangerous once he came on the pitch. Before he came on, we completed 9 of 18 passes into the penalty area. With him on from the 73rd minute, we were 9 of 11.

    • Thought Xhaka played ok, but he still looks a bit off the pace and/or out of sync with his teammates. I’m pretty confident it will only be a matter of time that we’ll be singing his praises more vociferously.

  20. I was lucky enough to gain my first season ticket 2 years ago after being on the waiting list for just over 10 years. I was so excited at the time and we had signed Ozil the year before and everything was looking good for the future.

    Whilst I will so go to as many home matches as possible, and will always support the team, the magic just seems to have disappeared. My energy has slowly dissipated and my enthusiasm for the team is much less than before. As a club, my opinion is that our ambition does not match what I consider to be my reasonable expectations. I am not an advocate for spending unwisely but I do expect us to fill gaps and weak spots in the squad with reasonable options.

    i wish the club would lift me from this malaise but from everything I hear and read, I guess I should settle down and just live with the next few years of gradual deterioration.

    Even if we do buy players now, it will still feel like a knee jerk reaction rather than careful planning to improve the squad that would allow us to compete at the start of the season.

    Sad times.

    • It’s hard to know with transfers what the plan was. I’m not going to overly defend the Arsenal negotiating team on this one, but I will point out that they were going to buy Vardy and Mkhtaryian, which I believe was plan A, but having been foiled on both counts they didn’t identify palatable alternate choices, especially for the cost involved. So instead they’ve chosen to play a waiting game and gamble on landing a big fish late in the window in the same manner as they landed Ozil and Sanchez, after other dominos fell, rather than pay over the odds for a player they view as mediocre. Would we be much happier having signed Sadio Mane, Yannick Bolasie, or Christian Benteke for 30 million plus each? I don’t know if those players would get us too much closer to a title, and their enormous cost limits future investment. Maybe Wenger should’ve said “fuck it” and pull out all the stops like Man United have done, but he’s just never going to be that guy. He’s always said his goal is to hand over the managerial reigns with the club in the best shape it’s ever been, and while I know it doesn’t feel like that right now, the big picture is that Arsenal are here to stay as a contender in the league and champions’ league. It’s the same in American sports; managers and general managers who have been at one club for a long time think long term, they invest in prospects and they want to ensure continuity. GM’s who feel like they could be fired soon are the ones who strip the farm system and deal draft picks to try to win now. And if you don’t win now, you get the Brooklyn Nets. Of course that’s in a salary cap system, etc etc and I will gladly admit Wenger is far too conservative with the funds he has. However I maintain it’s a useful comparison if you’re thinking about the contrast between ourselves and, say, Man United this summer.

      Man United were the laughing stock of the transfer window world last season, so they were hugely determined to pay whatever it took to regain their respectability. They have done that by spending unprecedented amounts of money, and have planned to win now with Ibra and Mou. Much like the van Persie situation with the imminently retiring Fergie, it may win them the title this season, but there is no guarantee as the field is very competitive. It also leaves them in a position where they will once again need to buy a striker from the very top shelf again after Ibra’s body inevitably betrays him as well as another top manager when Mourinho inevitably pisses off everyone around him. Man United, if things start to go a little bit sour, have the ingredients for an epic melt down. Mourinho could hardly have more difficult personalities and bigger egos on his hands than Ibra, Rooney and Pogba. Can they all work together for a manager who demands defensive security first and foremost, and rapidly alienated his star player at his former club? The season is long and grueling. We’ll see.

  21. Also wanted to add: Campbell is a better player than Walcott (who was shocking yesterday), and while I can understand Wenger’s reservations about him, I CAN’T understand why he thinks he’s worth shipping out while Walcott is worth keeping. Walcott should have been sold this summer. Not only does he offer the team very little, he’s a liability in the final third. His decision making and shooting yesterday was something you’d expect from an 18-year-old academy player.

  22. Well said Jeremy and Doc. There is little doubt that the media affects the way we see things, even if we don’t agree with their narrative. And the media almost always has a narrative rather than a reporting of facts. Ask anybody who works in a news channel for instance and they’ll tell you they get a ‘script’ from on top every morning and they have to find ‘news’ to fit that. And sports media is probably even more like that.

    Most people get offended and react badly to being told this, but I don’t see why this should be. Wenger saying it annoys people, which I can understand, but really, so does anything that Wenger says, regardless of how reasonable, or even how contrary to his image his statements are.

    I’m finding that my enjoyment of the blogging experience is declining, and usually a shifting experience. I’ve read Arseblog since 2005 or something and I still do it as a matter of habit, though I do it less and less often now. I’ll catch up on articles once every 3-4 days or something. I used to be very active on Untold a few years ago, and really appreciate the work they did to swing the narrative on referees from the usual accusations of delusion and excuse making to yeah referees do have it in for Arsenal. (Except yesterday it seems. Small mercies) But now I barely go there. Likewise with some other blogs. The reason for this is not that I disagree with bloggers views. It’s the constant regurgitation of the same ‘debate’ that bores, annoys and ultimately takes away from the game for me.

    Some blame Arsenal for this sameness, and again, to a degree I can understand that, just like I can understand their other frustrations (I share them) But I don’t get the force behind those feelings, and my belief is that without the media narrative that started with the talking point ‘trophy drought’ in 2007, this would not be so. Some of the frustrations, yes. But not with the same intensity. This constant sense of being on edge as if Arsenal are in crisis is ridiculous to me. Sadly, I feel that it might be too late to bridge any sort of divide, and I’m willing to bet that it won’t go away even with a new manager.

    • That’s where some folks are with Wenger; they don’t know who to replace him with, but they want him gone. They’ll get their wish and find that we’ll be no better off. Some have told me they don’t care, they just don’t want the same thing over and over. I guess familiarity really does breed contempt for some.

      To lend credit to what you’re saying, I was away from football and from this site for about a month and, like you, I really can’t understand the depth and strength of the negative emotions emanating towards something that’s ultimately meant as a diversion. Sadly even Tim’s blogs have taken on an increasingly cynical and bitter tone for the past several months, maybe even years.

      • Not knowing who to replace him with (the fans, whose job it’s not anyway) is not an argument for keeping Wenger in his job. None of us had heard of Wenger when he replaced Bruce Rioch. Saying that things will get bad is purely speculative.

        We certainly shouldn’t believe that Wenger is our one and only love, either short term or long.

        I support Arsenal FC. Managers come and managers go, even legendary ones who have done an immense amount for the club. I’m full of admiration of where the current one has brought us, but I’m confident that there are managers who can build further on that. Arsene looks, sounds, operates like someone who has ossified. When you’ve lost John Cross…

        Change is often necessary and we shouldn’t fear it. Certainly not on the unfounded and irrational fear that things will get worse.

        • Deciding transfer policy, tactics, fitness issues, and the incumbent manager aren’t fans’ jobs either.

          Not saying I disagree with you about the import though. Who else is better is not a valid argument from our perspective and one I’ve never made personally.

          But really, it has to be for the board. You’ve decided he must go, he’s ossified etc, so you think we must take the risk (and let’s not kid itself that it isn’t a risk) and we can get someone to build further. But if the board haven’t arrived at the same conclusion about Arsene, they really have to be sure the next guy who they actively choose to replace him with, is better than Wenger. Better enough to justify that risk.

        • Isn’t it obvious that Michel Arteta is going to replace Arsenal in 2 years time?
          I think it is
          non of Arsene Wenger palns looks like a short term goal, brinign in Rob holding, and Beilik are the obvious ones.
          I think the plan is to have Arsene for 2 more years before arteta learns the trcks from Pep
          Then we have are own young manager for the next decade, like Liverpool and Totts
          P.S. I like this plan 🙂

    • You and Doc have argued your viewpoints keenly and at times vehemently on this site. If you’re tired of the regurgitation of debates, or the sense of crisis that comes from a divided fanbase, then you need also look at yourselves as key contributors.

      I think what’s annoying about statements like Doc’s and implicitly yours is that it takes what is undoubtedly true of the media (i.e., having a narrative) and then assuming that it is consumed unthinkingly by passive agents (though in this case, ‘agency’ would likely be a misnomer for you and Doc). Most Gooners I know (including Tim and the Andrews at Arseblog) harbor a deep dislike of the media even when it concurs at some level with the frustration we feel.

      Never before has there been more suspicion of the media, and I include myself as someone who has made it a habit of actively resisting the notion that the news is objective. So when we are accused of lapping it up and regurgitating it as our own views, you will forgive the annoyance.

      • I’m not sure why you’re equating influence with brainwashing. Like with most things, fan opinion is on a spectrum. I have a high opinion of this site and its contributors (including yourself) which I why I keep coming back. Far from insisting that you are passive vessels for media views, I’m instead elaborating on the difference in fan communication in this millennium and the ways that this leads to internal discord. I’m not assuming that any of you are unable to think for yourselves (and certainly am not putting myself above it in any way) but I am saying that all of us now exist in an infrastructure that facilitates a rapid exchange of large volumes of information, which is mostly in the form of opinion, and that we are all influenced by this to various degrees. I’m also saying that this has led to polarization and extremism, especially online, where individuals are known to become disinhibited by the anonymity that this type of dialogue allows. None of this is novel, nor should it be surprising or insulting.

      • Nope. No one’s saying you’re lapping it up or are stooges or whatever. Just that as active members of the Arsenal online chatter, you are affected by the media narrative. Like I am. I wasn’t excluding myself from any of it. It shapes how an event is viewed, analysed, and debated. And it sharpens any position, rather than being amorphous or undefined as they usually are.

        You can mistrust them, dislike them, or disbelieve them, but they have an impact on you and the world around you.

        Like I said, I don’t exclude myself. I do pay attention to the media and what they say (sometimes crucially, what they don’t say) I’d love to discuss Arsenal and Arsene’s failings, and often on sites where people aren’t so willing to jump on everything as a sign of said failing, I often find myself disagreeing with or criticising the manager, or at least discussing how wrong/right he is. (usually about the football, but also about transfers) It’s just easier and more fulfilling to do when it isn’t about ‘he must go/stay’ before, during and after every game, press conference, or even, transfer rumour. And that sense of impending doom would not be there were it not for the media narrative.

        The sense of crisis doesn’t come from a divided fanbase. It comes from a section of the fanbase who, to my mind, overreact to the problems Arsenal have, when you see how far Arsenal have come and how they’ve progressed even in very recent years. Which is why I asked all of the people who don’t share the same view as me on Wenger to list what they thought he and Arsenal do right. All that is good with the club. Because it certainly isn’t all bad.

        You know, like I can say we should sign a striker, believe it cost us a title that we didn’t, but still feel that on balance we’re doing well enough to keep on keeping on. I’m sure you can see what’s good but still fall on the other side of the scale. Just be good to see an acknowledgment of that from time to time. Might even lead to better debates.

        • I don’t think there’s been an over-reaction at all. Expectations were built by the club, and they have failed to meet them.

          I absolutely note the good when I see it. Perhaps you haven’t seen my post-match comments when I praise players for their performances, as I did for Theo Walcott for his surprisingly good performance against City in pre-season, for example. I have also spent years, both here and elsewhere defending Arsenal while they were crippled with debt, noting especially that our performances and transfers were a reflection of our inability to compete financially with our rivals, and praising Wenger for being one of the only managers in the world who could have steered us through years of austerity while maintaining a consistent record.

          But it’s now been over three years since we’ve emerged from that debt, and still Wenger reverts to type. We are not kicking on. We are not developing. We are stagnating. Gaps in the squad that might have been forgivable when we were told we were poor, are indictments of the management when they remain unfilled while rich.

    • “Ask anybody who works in a news channel for instance and they’ll tell you they get a ‘script’ from on top every morning and they have to find ‘news’ to fit that. And sports media is probably even more like that.”
      _______________________

      Nonsense, Shard.

      I am a newspaper editor. Since you’ve invited gooners here to ‘ask anyone’ in my trade, I’m going to answer the point. And (i’m going to be less polite towards you here), you are talking pure bull. Newsgathering is not about getting a script from on high and finding the facts to suit. You insult a lot of good professionals by putting forward that twaddle.

      Who sent Arseblog his anti-Wenger talking points? Tim Todd? Henry Winter? John Cross (as sympathetic a Wenger journalist as you can find) today? http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/10546292/arsene-wenger-has-been-an-absolute-shambles-says-the-daily-mirrors-john-cross Niall Quinn on Sky last week? Did Rupert Murdoch sent Quinn and Cross their talking points, or what it merely the MD of BSkyB?

      You also insult the intelligence of fellow gooners, for many of whom it has been slow burn, and who have come to the conclusion that he’s hopelessly wedded to a failed transfer operation and won’t change. I put forward (i’d like to think) well-argued reasons for why Wenger is past his expiry date. Whose talking points am I following? As a member of the media, I suppose I should consider my intelligence twice insulted by you.

      Here’s the thing that you and Doc are failing to see… this did not start with the media. It started with Arsenal fans. We the fans are not taking our cue from the media — the media are taking their cue from us. Picking up on and reporting our growing disaffection.

      Look, it’s fine for you to have your views. I’m glad we’re not all monolithic here. But if you think that this is a media driven witch hunt against Wenger, that a minority of vocal people sound off and the majority is happy with the job he is doing — you are completely out of touch with the fans base of the club you support.

      But back to your claim about how the media gathers news, Shard.I can understand that you have a strong position on the disaffection with Wenger, and believe me, I respect those views. But on some occasions you invent scenarios to suit your point of view. This is one of those occasions.

      • I specifically said ‘news channels’ since I have some insight into how those work, at least here in India. I forget which paper in the UK it was that had its senior editor quit citing the influence and obstruction by the paper’s advertisers. I know that certain stories about large corporations don’t make it into the news because of direct and indirect payments (ads, other investments, or bribes) I know that newspapers are often bought and operated to suit other business or political interests. Does this preclude ANY paper from being run properly, and EVERY news story/source being nonsense. No, and I never said that. What I said was fairly uncontroversial. If you want to take it personally, that’s on you.

        What is shocking is how you, while flashing your journalistic credentials, can react to something you imagine I said and then accuse me of ‘invent(ing) scenarios’ to support my views. I mean, when did I say I ‘think that this is a media driven witch hunt against Wenger, that a minority of vocal people sound off and the majority is happy with the job he is doing’. No one said that. Not even Doc. And even Bunburyist seems to think that the media having a narrative is ‘undoubtedly true’.

        If you would stop with the outrage for a second and take another look at what was said, perhaps you would realise that there really isn’t anything you need to take as an insult in there.

        As for the ‘It did not start with the media’ bit, I specifically mentioned the term ‘trophy drought’ started in 2007. Did that start with the fans less than 2 years after our last trophy, or was it echoed by the fans in subsequent years? Was it mentioned at every opportunity by commentators and writers and pundits? Spare me this the media only reflects the fans’ attitude business. It’s a bit chicken and egg, but if the media were truly representative of the voice of the people, we’d have far better reporting and a far better world in general.

        • The trophy drought is a different argument — one that I have fought back against on behalf of Wenger. After the FA cup wins we went from “no trophies in X years” to “no titles in X years.”

          The media HAS held Wenger to different, less fair standards over the years — a long-running red card count that was not relative to anyone else’s, and insufficient criticism of thuggish play against Arsenal player being two examples.

          But this is different. The fans were completely behind him in those two instances that I cited, so you cannot credibly say that their sentiments are media-led. The frustration over Wenger’s bad planning of the close-season (I’m seeing A LOT more of that position which I’ve argued for a long time being widely echoed now) is something at has festered with the fans at least since 2011.

          But yes, you clearly have no idea how news is gathered. And this misconception just happens to dovetail neatly with where you stand on all this, no?

          Sports journslists and editors don’t sit around in editorial conference rooms and ask, “how are we going to shaft Arsene today?” “How are we going to keep up the Arsenal in crisis narrative?” We do know a juicy bone when we see one, though.

          • Look, I never said that fans are entirely led by the media. Nor that all the criticisms are invalid. (Quite the opposite in fact) All I said was that the media influences how we view and think about things. Doc was much better in explaining it. But the essence of his and my arguments are the same.

            You want to argue the functioning of the media with me? Fine, but that’s a bit of a tangential discussion. So I have a convenient misconception? Based on what? That your experiences don’t match up with mine? News gathering and news presenting are not quite the same thing. You really want to argue that the media doesn’t propagate a certain narrative? Like, REALLY?

          • Perhaps there’s been a misunderstanding. I was unclear. I didn’t mean they ‘found news’ to fit the script. The news gatherers work separately and constantly, almost always looking for a story or an angle they know they can ‘sell’ to their bosses.

            This news is then ‘moulded’ by another group of people according to the ‘script’ and is presented by the ‘face’ who is generally there because he is good at ‘moulding’ things on the fly, if required.

            Lastly, I would like to say that there can be any number of well meaning, intelligent and decent people conscientiously doing their jobs in a field, and yet be part of a system that doesn’t portray those same values.

      • Claudeivan
        Hello there. I’m just going to recount a little moment I experienced on the train to Cardiff on the eve of the 2001 FA Cup final. I was sitting in a 1st class carriage opposite Harry Harris of the Daily Mirror (at the time, chief sportswriter?) and another journalist, from the Sun (not sure of the name but recognised his face).
        Harry spent 5-10mins on his mobile saying things like,
        “Yep, I gotcha Max”
        “Yes, I understand, I’ll let them know Max” etc etc
        When he finished the call he then proceeded in hushed tones to tell his companion that the message was the FA Cup will be reported in a positive way, everything will be fabulous and a great success. That the move to Cardiff is a great success.
        I have no doubt ‘Max’ is Max Clifford and what he was doing was handing prominent sports journalists the narrative script for forthcoming articles.
        Max Clifford was rumoured to have had a lot of connections and influence, and I don’t doubt his influence over the years has ultimately cost him his Liberty at this time.

  23. Specifically on the protest, I was highly amused to read LeGrove’s headline pop up on newsnow. Something along the lines of ‘The protest was a success if viewed in proper context’

    A guy who spent all those years refusing to see the context behind Arsenal’s dealings and Arsene’s ‘top 4 is like a trophy’ statements, was suddenly finding ‘context’ to prove something happened when it didn’t, despite all the predictions.

  24. i can declare i’m not much affected by the media. am i in the minority? probably not. i’d listen to any one of you guys talk about arsenal ahead of the media. why? those guys’ job is to report sports news. i’m not interested in sports news, i’m interested in arsenal. you guys are interested in arsenal. unless they’re arsenal fans, they’re not going to know our club’s football better than we do. they may get insider information from contacts at the club but as far as forming an opinion concerning the state of the football at the club, i think you’re in the minority if the media has a significant influence on you. sure, we discuss their reports but that’s about it.

    for instance, i’ve gone on about how desperately arsenal need a center forward. i’ve heard media pundits talking about needing a better striker than giroud but i haven’t hear the term ‘center forward’ get a lot of mention. as far as i know, that’s some sh*t i made up on my own with no media influence. i’ve gone on and explained the difference between the two and how arsenal are screwed if their one legitimate center forward goes down. that’s just one example but it explains the reason most of us visit this site, to hear the perspective of other arsenal fans. it’s not as if i can have a heavy arsenal-based conversation with my wife.

    • speaking of center forwards, here’s a media-based topic. west brom are apparently linked with a move for southampton’s jay rodriguez. this is move that wenger could hijack and it would prove very shrewd. when van persie left, i said that rodriguez is a player arsenal should consider. this kid is very talented and a legitimate center forward with superstar potential. this is when he was still at burnley and before he got capped by england. he’d played a couple of games against arsenal back then and destroyed their back line as a young buck.

      would he make arsenal better? if he’s fit, he most certainly would. his movement and creativity coupled with arsenal’s service means i think he would be a huge hit. he’s a better center forward than alexis and theo and he’d compete with giroud. before his knee injury, i rated him higher than giroud. if he didn’t injure his knee, he would have gone to brazil with england. when he got injured, pochettino brought in the likes of dani osvaldo, tadic, and pelle but they still missed jay rodriguez. this could be a very shrewd, low-risk move with huge upside. wenger made a similar move when he signed gael clichy and hoped to do it with yaya sonogo. we’ll see.

  25. joel campbell to sporting lisbon on loan? but theo’s still at arsenal? wow! kinda feels like an adebayor situation; nothing with his performances but wenger clearly doesn’t like this kid. if i were campbell, i’d ask to leave arsenal permanently. i just reiterated the point about strikers failing at arsenal if they can’t play center forward. this kid can play center forward but wenger won’t play him at all.

    • Agreed, it’s probably meant to leave space for Gnabry to fill that role after his Olympic success and leaves me with the dreaded feeling our forward line is set for the 1st half of the season. Gnabry will be the new LANS.

  26. Regarding newspapers and the media I can only speak about my own experience.

    Years ago I would buy The Sun, The Mirror, or The Star every day. I enjoyed reading about the football and I enjoyed reading about Arsenal. I knew those papers weren’t at the cutting edge of journalism, but I enjoyed the sorta dumb, straight forward commentary on the games and finding out what the players had been up to. The main take away I think is that I ENJOYED reading about Arsenal in those papers. Sure they weren’t always complimentary, but I never felt like Arsenal were treated particularly more poorly than anybody else. I looked forward to reading those papers every morning.

    A few years ago the ‘X years without a trophy’ thing appeared. It bothered me but but I couldn’t deny that it had, in fact, been x years without a trophy. But after a while that phrase became so constant that it seemed to be mentioned in every article, often in the first few sentences. It started to bother me more and more.

    I started to not enjoy reading about Arsenal matches. The reports seemed less about the match and more about a check list of digs and jokes at Arsenal’s expense, or at Arsene’s expense, with the match itself almost a secondary concern in the backround. This did not make me happy.

    I started to wonder why other teams didn’t seem to get the same treatment. Liverpool had been without a title for much longer, but that was never mentioned. If the story is that a big club is no longer successful (ha ha) why weren’t Liverpool on the end of similar jokes? I started to feel like Arsenal were being singled out, to be prodded and laughed at, and I became not just unhappy, but angry. Not at Arsenal, but at the papers.

    But the thing was. Even though I was angry at the reporting, and not at Arsenal, that constant negativity began clouding my thoughts on Arsenal. I enjoyed the games less, I became tense, I became angry at defeats, as soon as the game started at 0-0 we were already ‘behind’, we needed a win, if only to stop the snide remarks, and the jokes, and the x years without appearing as soon as Arsenals name was mentioned. And while nearly all my anger and frustration was directed at the constant negative reporting, the people writing it, and the papers for relentlessly selling it, I directed some of that at Arsenal.

    If only Arsenal would just win and shut them up. Show them you’re not a spineless team, show them you’ve got fight and spirit. Won’t you please just fu#&king win and shut them up.

    I guess I’m just saying that at some point, for me, Arsenal winning became more about the need to shut up people who were dissing Arsenal. I was tired of the constant digs, the constant crisis, and even though I’m fine if Arsenal never win a thing again, the constant negativity had left me feeling angry and frustrated and annoyed and helpless.

    I’m a quiet individual. I’m shy. I worry. So for me those feelings were directed inwards. But if I had a different personality, I could see how all that could have been directed outwards.

    I don’t read those papers anymore. I don’t listen to pundits that wind me up. If any of them say stupid stuff about Arsenal I don’t care.

    But I did. They did make me care. Sure it was my choice but I bought into it. They made me care about stuff I didn’t care about. They made me frustrated about stuff that didn’t frustrate me. They added an edge to my Arsenal support that hadn’t been there before.

    I didn’t like it so I left it behind.

  27. Actually sometimes I still get caught up in it, mostly online, but then I talk to my sister, who got me into Arsenal, and her chilled out response to current events usually brings me round.

  28. I honestly think this is brilliant from the BBC site.

    David Moyes was asked if fans of his Sunderland side should be prepared for another relegation struggle.

    His response:

    “Well, they would probably be right.That’s where they’ve been every other year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change?”

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