It’s not over!

2016 was widely hailed as the worst year anyone could remember. Coupled with celebrity deaths like Alan Rickman, David Bowie, and Prince was the rise to power of Brexit in England and Donald Trump in America. In my personal life 2016 was marked by the news that a close friend got cancer and had a mere six months to live. By the time January 1st 2017 rolled around, most of us were happy to say good riddance to 2016.

But I guess we forgot that time is not a flat circle and is instead an arrow to the heart. One moment in time doesn’t eradicate the previous but instead builds upon the momentum of the past until it explodes spectacularly. That is to say, 2016 was merely setting up 2017 which has, so far, been worse.

In 2017 the people I love are sicker than before, we have seen Brexit only gain momentum, and of course, 2017 saw the swearing in of Donald Trump. Trump has appointed several noted white supremacists to his cabinet, along with his children, and that action was quickly followed by Trump acting like a king and handing down dozens of proclamations from on high including a ban on refugees based on religion, an order to finish the Dakota Access Pipeline, several other orders which set the stage to radically change America’s relationships with China, Russia, Mexico, and Canada, and to dismantle the affordable care act. If we were hoping that a president who lost the popular election and won the electoral college by a few thousand key votes would reach out to the other half of the country that he presides over in an effort to heal our divided nation, we were rebuked roundly.

Arsenal also decided that they too would continue 2016’s trend and make 2017 into the worst year imaginable. That may be a bit of hyperbole but hyperbole is as American as greed and Jesus.

2017 started fine, with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, and then 2 days later the season came to what was nearly a screeching halt when Arsenal contrived to draw 3-3 against a 10 man Bournemouth side. Arsenal got back on track with wins over Preston and Swansea but there were signs that things weren’t ok at Arsenal because nearly every match after Crystal Palace was marked with slow starts.

Seeking to rectify the slow starts of the previous matches, Arsenal came out strong against Burnley and got off 12 shots in the first 35 minutes. They could only manage two on target in that time and Burnley, to their credit, forced three saves from Cech but Arsenal kept the pressure up and eventually got their goal in the 59th minute when Özil found Mustafi for his first Arsenal goal. Then six minutes later, 2017 reminded us who was in charge and Xhaka got a red card for a tackle that was yellow at best.

Xhaka’s red card meant that Arsenal would be missing Cazorla to injury, Elneny to the African Cup of Nations, and Xhaka to ill-discipline and would need to play with a makeshift midfield over the next four matches which included a crucial top of the table clash with Chelsea.

Wenger rested his first team in the next match, an FA Cup tie against Southampton. Arsenal stormed Southampton, scoring five goals to their nil. But the most exciting prospect in that match was seeing Theo Walcott score a hat trick and watching Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain grow in prominence in the center of the midfield. Despite the struggles of the weeks prior, Arsenal looked ok and like maybe they could pull off an upset or two despite missing their most important midfielders.

Then Watford.

Arsenal lost 2-1 to Watford thanks, again, to a slow start. Wenger opted for Aaron Ramsey in the center of the park along with Coquelin. And up front, Wenger started Giroud while at right back he chose Gabriel over the speedy Bellerin. Wenger went for size and power against a large and powerful Watford team. It turned out that the problem wasn’t being overrun with power, it was simply playing football like it mattered. Ramsey switched off on an awful throw-in by Gabriel, Coquelin was juked, Mustafi just let his man run past him and Watford took a 2-0 lead over Arsenal. Wenger admitted his mistake and switched to movement in the second half, putting Alexis up front but by then it was too little too late.

Arsenal went into that match 8 points off leaders Chelsea. Chelsea played Liverpool later in the day, a match which Chelsea would draw. A win over Watford would have put Arsenal just 6 points off Chelsea and heading into the next match, against the league leaders, Arsenal would have a chance to close the gap to just three.

But instead, Arsenal went to the Bridge behind by 9 and by the end of the day, behind by 12. Arsenal lost 3-1 to Chelsea courtesy of what Wenger called a controversial referee decision: Chelsea’s Moses played a cross in from the right toward Arsenal’s left back, Bellerin – Bellerin was caught trying to challenge the much larger Costa for the ball and did a decent job putting the Brazilian off his header, but the shot ricocheted off the crossbar and looped high into the air. Then Chelsea’s left back, Alonso, came storming in after the loose ball and went into an aerial challenge clearly leading with his elbow and knocked Hector bellerin out to score the goal. It was both a real and symbolic knockout of Arsenal’s title hopes.

The Guardian's Michael Cox explains why Bellerin was left challenging two players: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/feb/05/arsenal-surprise-element-thwarted-chelsea-system-arsene-wenger-antonio-conte
The Guardian’s Michael Cox explains why Bellerin was left challenging two players: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/feb/05/arsenal-surprise-element-thwarted-chelsea-system-arsene-wenger-antonio-conte

Wenger is still furious. Pointing out that the elbow was the main reason why Arsenal lost to Chelsea. That elbow, however, is convenient cover for the fact that Arsenal’s Theo Walcott failed to track Alonso. Yes, it seems unfair to blame Walcott, a forward, for failing to cover a left back, but that’s what Chelsea does: they play a five man attack in order to overwhelm defenses and catch forwards napping.  In this instance, their right back (Moses) played a cross in while Hazard, Pedro, and Costa all moved toward the ball, creating space in behind. Walcott should have been prepared to cover Alonso and if he was (I assume Wenger alerted the players to Chelsea’s obvious playing style) then he should have been aware of the threat. Instead, Arsenal’s Bellerin was left challenging for two aerial balls against much larger men in both Costa and Alonso.

I understand why us Gooners think that the League and the referees are against us. We seem to be on the negative end of calls more often than the positive. This is especially true when the calls are physical. So, Xhaka gets a red card for looking like he was going to hurt a player but Alonso actually gives a player a concussion and there is no foul called. And what’s also true is that Arsenal’s lack of organization and discipline exacerbate the referee decisions. If Theo tracks Alonso does Bellerin get knocked out? I doubt it. Bellerin had to make two challenges in the span of a few seconds against two much larger men, even having a second body in there would help a little.

And it’s important to note that this wasn’t at the end of the match when everyone was tired, Arsenal also weren’t behind in the match and needing their forwards to stay up in order to spring counters. This was early in the match when Chelsea had created almost nothing and Walcott simply stood there and watched as his marker ran up and brutally elbowed a teammate in the head. This is the exact same problem that Arsenal suffered against Watford a few days earlier, key players (this time Ramsey, Coquelin, and Mustafi) just being a little bit off the pace. A little bit less than fully switched on. A little bit standing there and watching their teammates get abused.

After taking on the referees Wenger admonished fans today saying that the season isn’t over and that we need to back the team:

It is never over; we are not to behave like that. Even if you [reporters] think like that, I don’t. We look at the teams who surround us, we are all in a pack that is very tight and the fight for every position is massive as it has always been in the Premier League – maybe even more so this season.

Of course, our fans have been consistent and have a high level of expectation, as I have as well. But I don’t feel it is absolutely clear. You cannot be a fan until last Tuesday and not be a fan anymore and not be behind the team this Saturday. It doesn’t make sense.

This isn’t a problem that spans back to just Tuesday. This is a problem that started at Bournemouth, continued through Xhaka’s red card and four match suspension, and culminated in back to back limp, disorganized defeats. It’s over. Arsenal’s title race is over. Arsenal would need to win every remaining fixture and Chelsea would need to lose three and draw 1. Not impossible but highly unlikely. What Wenger is referring to “fighting for” here is the 4th place trophy.

4th place is a logical thing to root for. 4th place means that Arsenal are in the Champions League next year. Champions League means that Arsenal won’t have as much trouble recruiting new players. 4th place means Arsenal get Champions League money in order to buy players.

But 4th place is also a lot like rooting for Hillary Clinton. She was the logical choice. She was the safe choice. She was the most experienced choice and she would have represented a smooth transition in the status quo. Governments around the world (except Russia) would have loved Hillary. Hillary would have worked hrd for America. Hillary wasn’t the most exciting candidate but she was a logical, rational choice. Instead we got Trump. Trump is like finishing 5th: none of the benefit of being in the Champions League and all of the drawbacks of playing an extra match a week in the Europa League.

Personally, I hope Arsenal finish top four but… But if 2016 taught us anything, the logical, rational, and probably the right, choice is not what the people want going forward. They want chaos. They want change. They want Brexit. They want Trump. They want 7th place.

And so, I fear that despite Wenger’s hopeful optimism, it may very well be over.

Qq

50 comments

  1. I don’t like Trump. I certainly didn’t vote for him, but “Trump has appointed several noted white supremacists to his cabinet” is simply delusional.

    We have a president who tweets delusions every day and it seems his delusions are fueling the delusions of others.

      1. A) Bannon isn’t on the cabinet
        B) The only thing clear about Sessions are the perceptions people choose based on the sensational news outlet of their choice.

        I don’t want to turn this into politics. It was just an observation. We saw a lot of “everything is awful” during the Obama years and it’s just tiring. Seems both sides should look at each and ask is politics a sport? Sure seems that way based on how predictable people react.

        The rest of the article is spot on in regards to Arsenal.

        1. Jeff Sessions said he thought the KKK was ok until he found out they smoked pot, called a black prosecutor “boy,” fought against removing the Confederate flag from public buildings, has opposed voting rights for blacks for decades (and even wrongly prosecuted black activists for voter fraud), has called the NAACP “un-American,” and even Republicans voted to keep him from a federal judgeship in the 80s because he was racist. The only thing clear about Sessions is that he’s a racist and a white supremacist who will work tirelessly to suppress civil rights, and that has little to do with “sensational news.”

          Mnuchin, a cabinet appointee, cofounded a bank that discriminated against blacks and Latino/as and made sure that the bank’s branches didn’t even open in black and brown neighborhoods. That’s precisely how white supremacy works. Diminishing these actions as delusional only serves to support an unequal system.

          Politics in the US right now is as far from sport as we’ve seen in years. What’s tiring is watching Arsenal lose in the manner they’ve lost the last couple matches.

          Thanks for your writing, Tim! I thoroughly enjoy your articles.

          1. I do find Sessions thoughts on the war on drugs and the police state annoying. I’d oppose his nomination simply on those grounds. The rest is the typical nonsense from the “politics as a sports” news generators. Those talking points are neither new to me or compelling.

            You’re also right, Arsenal’s results over the last decade are tiring.

          2. An unfunny comedian (Steve Martin or Martin Lawrence) is annoying.

            A racist wielding the power of the state probably warrants a description several magnitudes stronger.

            Orwellian language (“I would not have done it like the myself…”) is always a big tell.

      2. It’s not an accident that Bannon, Sessions, and a kook like Flynn have been teamed up together in this administration. There are dozens of better-qualified candidates in the Republican pool. But their plan is a kind of accelerationism; deregulate capitalism, unshackle it from fear of global warming, and further a white nationalist agenda (hence the onslaught of executive orders and media disinformation). And Sessions and co are the particular personalities they need to do it.

        Ignoring the fact of Sessions’ record or dismissing it as “not compelling” is a marker of privilege, ignorance or dare I say it, rank, unfettered racism. That being said, I do respect the personal viewpoint of the individual to say their piece on this issue. I also pity the person who is so tragically institutionalised in a white supremacist culture that they parade open denial of fact as a marker of superior intellect.

        Has Wenger institutionalised us as Arsenal fans? If it was 2005 and someone travelled back from future 2017 and said “Arsenal haven’t won another League title since but Wenger is still the manager (and btw Trump is President of the USA)” you’d think he was stark raving mad.

      3. Jeff Sessions prosecuted the KKK. Whatever.

        It’s really sad that sports is now polluted with politics. The great thing about sports is to give people a neutral rallying point where people of different backgrounds, races, creeds and political beliefs can put down those flags and pick up the flag of their team at least for a few hours each week and sing songs together, cheer your team and share common memories.

        That’s all gone now and your little screed about Trump and Hillary only divides not unites. You want to bitch about the state of politics then look in the mirror because rather than use a sporting forum where people can put their political differences aside to bond people, you’re more interested in chasing everyone who disagrees with you politically away. What a small minded child.

          1. Go look up the definitions. Seriously. You’re just trying to sound profound without addressing my point.

            We should aspire to a condition where sports bonds people and is above politics. Sure, I’m not naïve, I know there’s boycotts and propaganda, but that’s ugly stuff. Why not be better than that?

            I weep because everything has become political. We’re into what some social scientists call the fourth turning. The Age of the Individual has reached its inevitable crescendo where everyone thinks that just because they have an opinion we all need to hear it. I say this in full awareness of the irony that I am here expressing an opinion.

            Used to be two things you didn’t discuss in public were politics and religion. Some wisdom in that rule. Those two issues divide us. What we believe, practice and how we vote should be a private matter.

            A legitimate debate about the future of Wenger that probably has opinions crossing all political lines gets polluted with Trump analogies? Sports is not politics.

          2. Politics comes from the latin word “polis” meaning “the people”.

            “Sports is not politics.” HA! This is the most preposterous argument ever posited. I get that YOU don’t like to hear any overt stuff about Trump and Hillary in your sports news but it’s there regardless. Politics is always there in sport from the very first Olympiad to the day that London bought West Ham a stadium, politics has always been integral to sport and vice-versa. When we talk about “greed” in football we are talking about the political and economic machinations which allow for the corporatization of sport! What effect will Brexit have on the players and managers in the league? What effect with Trump’s trade wars with other countries have on my ability to watch football, to travel to England, to take my daughter to a game? Building a wall, endless wars, the racism of my country, these things are all real life things that impinge on our sport.

        1. “Sessions prosecuted the KKK. Whatever.”

          Here’s the thing Pires’ Goatee – Sessions prosecuting the KKK was a legal obligation based on evidence, not some virtuous charitable act. He doesn’t get cookies for carrying out his duty. He’s also on the record as stating that the NAACP tried to “shove civil rights down people’s throats”.

          This idea that sports brings people together is fine until you’re a female linesman getting jeered by a hostile crowd, a black man trying to get on a train full of Chelsea fans, a gay man or woman who can’t disclose their sexuality to their own club, or a female doctor getting abused and dismissed for doing their job.

          When opposing teams unite in front of Stop Racism banners before Champions League games, that’s a political statement. Many of us don’t have the luxury of making clear distinctions between politics and sports. Feel fortunate that you do.

    1. If Jesus, being brown, and a foreigner, were alive in America today, he’d make a great target for abuse by Trump’s supporters, some of whom claim to be Christian.

      1. I don’t know Bun, the Christian God is an autocrat who committed genocide, told his people to commit genocide, committed torture, forced people into genital mutilation, murdered people for the sin of unmarried sex, told his people to murder people for their sins, and who has a “chosen” people. I can hardly think of anything MORE Trumpian. Sure, touchy-feely-hippie Jesus came along with his “throwing stones” and “healing the sick” nonsense but really who gets past the good stuff in the bible? It’s like the constitution: all the stuff we need to think about is at the beginning.

        1. It sounds like what you’re saying is that the Jewish conception of God is bad. I have Jewish friends who would take umbrage with your narrative, which ignores context, the moments when God (in the Tanakh, or Old Testament if you’re a Christian) is an advocate for the oppressed / weak / marginalized, and a long tradition of Hebrew scriptural interpretation that locates the history as admittedly motivated (e.g., there is zero archaeological evidence for the Canaanite genocide mentioned in the Bible).

          In many respects, the Christian God of love and mercy (i.e., the one who emerges in the New Testament) is not so different from the one in the Old Testament, but too many people have ignored the continuities because they assume, along with the fundamentalist Biblical literalists (and this is a huge irony), that when the Bible calls a spade, it’s a spade.

          What I would say is that American evangelical Christianity doesn’t understand Christianity. The message of Jesus has infinitely more in common with socialism than capitalism. Most people outside the US understand this. It’s why you have things like liberation theology in places like Africa and South America, for example.

          1. What I’m saying is the New Testament version of the Old Testament is bad. In the Hebrew tradition you have both Tanakh and Talmud; both the word and the interpretation. This adds context, of course. But I’m still not certain that a much more restrictive interpretation, an uglier version of religion, isn’t more of the norm than the peace love and forgiveness.

            This isn’t a Jewish thing or a Christian thing. This is all of the religions of Abraham. They are all useful tools of oppression against women and minorities because all of them are clear when it comes to things like homosexuality (kill them), the place of women in society (baby-makers), whether you can eat pork (nope), and the role of the righteous against the non-believers.

            Yes, there are some peaceful traditions among these religions and there are differences among them as well. There are probably thousands of different ways that these books have been read, more or less to fit what people want. But the baseline for these books is a very strict code of life with very severe punishments for people who don’t follow that code.

            Look, one of my favorite people is Jimmy Carter. His tireless work on behalf of the homeless, sick, and poor is an inspiration. He is the best part of humanity and a wonderful representative of Christianity.

            I also don’t think that American Christians “don’t get it.” The sermon on the mount didn’t say “give your money to the government so that they may redistribute it among the poor”. It is much more of a directive for the individual to act on the beatitudes rather than for the people to submit to the will of the government. In fact, I think the New Testament, and especially Jesus Christ’s opposition to the Jewish and Roman governments, fuels a lot of this 21st Century “Tea Party” anti-government sentiment. Jesus Christ was a revolutionary. They know this very well.

            There is so much more here that I think connects very well between the right and their sort of gleeful violence and the Abrahamic traditions.

            For example, they also carry with them a persecution complex and when they read, blessed are the righteous and those who are persecuted for their righteousness, they see this as a call to arms.

          2. “This isn’t a Jewish thing or a Christian thing. This is all of the religions of Abraham. They are all useful tools of oppression against women and minorities because all of them are clear when it comes to things like homosexuality (kill them), the place of women in society (baby-makers), whether you can eat pork (nope)”

            No remotely serious, mainstream Christian tradition that I’m aware of says it’s permitted to kill someone for being homosexual, or that it’s not permitted to eat pork (there might be crazy fringe groups that say these things, but that’s why they’re fringe groups). It’s one thing to attempt to defend the actions or precepts of God in the OT, another thing to claim it’s ok to act like that in the NT era, or today. You might think that distinction implies there’s an inconsistency at the very heart of the religion, but then at worst Christians who hold to that distinction today are being inconsistent, not murderers. There may be all sorts of things you or I find offensive about Christianity or the other Abrahamic faiths, but let’s not grossly misrepresent their views in order to demonize them.

            The view of women is clearly much more complicated and controversial, but it’s still a gross oversimplification of even “traditionalist” Christian views to suggest that the sole purpose of women in society is as “baby-makers”. Furthermore, in 1000 BC or 50 AD or 800 AD virtually every civilization on the planet treated women similarly, or worse (as has been pointed out many times, Jesus’ treatment of women was radically progressive for his time). It’s not just an Abrahamic faiths thing.

            The connection between the Beatitudes and the Tea Party is also a bit of a stretch, but it would be too complicated to go into it. Jesus said elsewhere, on the subject of oppressive Roman taxation, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Hardly a justification for Tea Party conservatives to be radically against taxes…

          3. 1. No Christians and Jews don’t kill homosexuals any more (though Uganda tried to make a “kill the homosexuals” law) but those passages in the bible are the ones used to justify the continued discrimination against homosexuals.

            Sure, “baby makers” and “kill them” were oversimplifactions of what the Levitical laws told followers of God to do. And what people did to women 1000 years ago is exactly the point. We shouldn’t still be doing that but we have only gotten marginally better and again the laws in the bible are used to justify this treatment. By mainstream religions, like the Catholic church.

            2. On taxes. Jesus was actually crucified for tax evasion:

            “They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” Luke 23:2

            And the words of Jesus do indicate at the very least antipathy toward tax collectors:

            “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault … if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

            Or even outright saying that you shouldn’t pay taxes:

            “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings on the earth collect tolls or tributes? From their own subjects, or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “In that case, the subjects are exempt.”

            And often tax-collectors was synonymous with sinner. In fact, Matthew was a “tax collector” before he became a disciple and Jesus’ works are often confronting tax-collectors and teling them to stop work or to give back the taxes as in the case of Zacchaeus who achieved redemption for his sins by giving back his tax money (and wealth) to the poor.

            Back to “render”. The teachings of Christ are complicated and there are clearly passages which suggest that followers should both be humble and pay taxes to their governments (that this doesn’t matter) and that they should resist taxation as it is a form of tribute to a false god and government of oppression.

          4. Sure. Nowhere did I argue that Christians are always good because they have a good understanding of the Bible. But I teach the Bible to undergraduates, not as a religious book, but as a historical and literary one, and I think your understanding of the Bible lacks nuance. The hermeneutics of suspicion serves both the left and the right, by the way.

          5. Nope. I don’t lack nuance. I lack the energy to write about the nuance here.

            Yes, there are a ton of interpretations of the Bible. My contention is that religions tend more toward fundamentalism than toward liberalism and that the books they use (for example, the book of Thomas isn’t included in the New Testament) back up a historical narrative which supports oppression of minorities, especially sexual minorities, and women.

          6. I’ve got a 16 month old to watch so I can’t reply right now, but I think you’re pretty mistaken about the issue of taxes and the NT. Perhaps a response to follow shortly…
            (On the other issues I think I mainly said what I wanted anyway, namely: implying (as you did) that Christians (or others) believe it’s permissible or right to KILL someone for being gay is VERY DIFFERENT than criticizing them for being discriminatory.)

          7. Well, sorry you read it that way. I was only quoting from the Old Testament what the correct punishment is for homosexuality.

          8. On Jesus and taxes:

            1. Far from advocating not paying taxes, the context of the passage you cite (“what do you think Simon”) is one in which Jesus MAKES A POINT OF PAYING HIS TAXES AND TELLING SIMON TO PAY HIS. (In any event, this passage is believed to be about the temple tax, not a tax to secular authorities.)

            2. The charges against Jesus are trumped up (it doesn’t matter if they actually were trumped up, or if any of this happened; my point is that the author of the book you cite clearly thought they were trumped up (see Luke 20:20-26)).

            3. Tax collectors were hated and considered “sinners”, i.e. outcasts, in respectable Jewish society at large. This was not so much because they collected taxes but because (a) in doing so they were colluding with the Romans, the brutal, oppressive, foreign regime, and (b) they were well-known to be extremely corrupt (this is not some controversial interpretation, but 1st century Judaism 101). Jesus wasn’t making a point of calling them out as sinners or showing antipathy towards them; everyone already considered them bad guys–it was a cultural assumption. In fact, respectable Jewish society was repeatedly scandalized by Jesus’ eating and socializing with tax collectors and prostitutes, etc, with whom no other good religious folks would have ever fraternized.

            4. He doesn’t tell Zacchaeus to pay back anything (Zacchaeus decides this himself) and it’s not his tax money (which would have gone to the Romans anyway), but his wealth, which he acknowledges was gained dishonestly, i.e. by extorting extra taxes out of people and lining his own pockets with it, which tax collectors were famous for doing.

            5. Nowhere in the NT are the followers of Jesus or early Christians ever told not to pay their taxes.

          9. I understand.

            However, the anti-taxers and tea party people, who do consider themselves well read Christians, disagree. I mean, look at the guy they elected. A guy they think is a deeply Christian man and whose hand is guided by Jesus himself.

          10. I can’t disagree with any of that. What an insane country/time we live in! We’ll all be lucky if he doesn’t start nuclear war before the end of 2017.

            PS My suspicions are that, despite what they may think about themselves, biblical and theological illiteracy is high with anti-taxers and tea party people in general, and indeed with most of Middle America cultural Christian conservative folks. But maybe that blanket statement is unfair.

          11. Tim,

            The idea that Jesus was crucified for tax evasion made me laugh!

            The Bible is a multi-faceted text. It does not prima facie give rise to any evil. This is why nuance is important. My students read interpretations of the Bible written by feminists and the queer community, among others, who see the Bible much differently than you do. For example, your fixation on Old Testament law fails to see the implications of the gospel, and even Paul’s fixation on the contingency of that law, which provides a model for future generations to reconsider said law.

            Like I said, if you think the Bible “says” what you say about homosexuals or women, then you have a very limited idea of what “says” means. Says where? In what context? For all time? Laws, even covenants, are for all time and all people? Nope.

          12. Jesus was killed because he was a threat to the Jewish and Roman state. The tax evasion (actually calling for seditious tax evasion) was the reason given and the Bible writes about it as if Jesus was innocent.

            I don’t doubt that a small minority of people could read the bible and see some transformative pro-female, pro-queer interpretations. Liberals have been banging that gong for as long as I’ve been alive, telling right-wing Christians that their Bible is about peace, love, and equality and not about queer hating, anti-woman, pro-subjugation of minorities.

            It’s not MY obsession with the Old Testament. You’re confusing me for a fundamentalist Christian. I’m completely secular. If I wanted to be a Christian I would be a Jimmy Carter Christian. My argument is that for the vast majority, especially in this country, the fundamentalist position is the ONLY logical position — and that the fundamentalist position is the fallback position for the entire book. And that fundamentalist position flows from the “God the avenger” model. He’s an angry god, a violent god, a god who punishes people for their sins.

            Somehow I’ve made it sound like I’m a fundy.

        2. [Sorry, I tried to submit my comment, and it didn’t work, so I tried just once more. Apologies for submitting twice…when submitting seemed to equal nothing at all.]

          1. How so? Because I’m critical of viewpoints that jump to a conclusion without nuance or context? To say there’s one narrative in the Bible is I think a misunderstanding of how and when the Bible was constructed. I’d love to hear how this equates me with Trump! Seriously, I’d love to.

  2. And isn’t always when we are around this spot in the table and we are still mathematically alive in the race, that either the manager and/or player(s) come out with obligatory “it ain’t over til it’s over”?

    Yawn. It’s all so predictable…

    1. It’s also usually when we have an obligatory run of good results to hang on to fourth, lose the first leg of the last 16 Champions League tie by so much that it’s out of reach, win the second leg but lose the tie in glorious failure, and one of our youngsters will put in a string of positive performances to raise hope that we won’t need to bring in a big name signing for next year. Have I forgotten anything?

      1. I think this year is going to be different. I think we aren’t making the top four. I think we aren’t keeping Alexis.

        I don’t know what Wenger is going to do. He’s my only outlier. But if he quits then Özil quits. That leaves a lot of room for rebuilding.

  3. All of it is a bit like a gruesome car crash, isn’t it? You can’t help but look, yet doing so is so very unrewarding.

    1. Entirely depends who the new manager is going to be, what his philosophy is, how much he gets to spend etc. I don’t think wholesale changes would be required though in terms of playing personal. Priority would be fostering a winning attitude of accountability where you are out quickly if you don’t perform. I’d be letting go of Ramsey, Gabriel, Jenkinson, Sanogo, and Wilshere straight away. Ox, Xhaka both in last chance saloon.

  4. We have come to a point where we are demanding change and are afraid of change …… I mean from our cosy armchairs. Time we are able to face up to our pains, our fears and our hopes.

  5. I really hope that Wenger can buck the trend for 2017 and offer 7am optimism ahead.

    Get Top4, go past round 16 and win an FA Cup before stepping down as manager so that the club can be united once more.

  6. This is the time of year all the philosophy and rationalising kicks in. As long as you are not obsessed with winning and okay with continuing to believe in the core values that our club represents, you could be happy. But Arsene goes, and player shakeup changes the culture of the club, then winning the League becomes realistic. Arsene stays, and we can still dream of FA Cup (likely) and Champions League (not likely). But we will not win the title again unless a miracle happens, like all the current referees get banished and PGMOL is abolished.
    This is the time of the season when watching the Arsenal becomes fun. The handbrake comes off and we start playing with the pressure of trying to win something.

  7. Good read Tim
    We got Trump because the electorate is mostly ignorant about the issues of the day.
    Obama care was probably the most contentious issue leading up to the election- the most talked about issue anyway. The Congress voted some 50 times to repeal it without putting forth a replacement, yet 33% of American voters don’t know that Obama care and Affordable Care Act are one and the same thing.

    There are other reasons of course but stupidity of voters is one of the main ones responsible for the mess we are in.
    Also, can you even imagine the shit storm we’d be facing right now if Obama had pulled any of the stunts Trump has pulled. We’d be well into the impeachment proceedings by now.

    As for Arsenal, we were never in the title race Tim.
    Arsenal are a club med of sporting organizations and nothing exemplifies it more than the recent Jenkinson transfer saga for me.
    He basically said that he realizes he may not get any playing time at Arsenal but when you are at a club like Arsenal, to leave, while still have a 3 and a half seasons left on his contract, “everything has to be perfect” were his exact words.

    He would rather stay at Arsenal and collect his £40k per week and not play, than go to Palace and play regularly for the manager he got along with well ,for the same money his on now.

    Making Arsenal team is the end goal for too many Arsenal players it seems and until that changes this club will never be a serious title contender.

  8. The team that wins the League is the best club that manages to put out a consistent 11 all season. Key players need to remain fit and available throughout the campaign. Last year Leicester had an incredible run of good luck with a thin squad and kept all their key players on the field throughout. If will happen again with a 2nd tier side but it’s unlikely to be for a very long time because it takes so much good fortune.

    The bigger sides are different because money allows them to build squad depth that allays somewhat the luck element of keeping your key players on the pitch. However with so much football being played between Europe and domestic competitions and all the international commitments these clubs players invariably have it still takes a lot of good fortune.

    Conte has double dipped the fortune stick this year and jammed it fair down the throats of all the chasing teams. No Europe and a long run with consistent key players available is a sure fire recipe for success. Of course he needs to motivate and organised them but that’s the easy part for a quality manager with world class players.
    If Arsenal had all their key players available throughout the campaign few could argue that we wouldn’t
    be right up there with Chelsea at least at the moment and perhaps a further 3 points ahead of them after beating them again on the weekend.

    A wise man once wrote about ‘damnable luck’….

    Indeed had Phil Moss not reached for that Red card we may well just be 3 points behind them despite the other injury problems we’ve had.

    Wenger took his time building Xhaka into the side and just when he had started to orchestrate play from deep and you could see the start of a new team identity coming forth we lost him for a critical 4 games that seemingly have damned lucked our season.
    But luck can turn and my hope is that the identity of the side that had just started to emerge can kindle and burn and then rage into a controlled manic storm taking down all before it like Tim is right now this season and not just ho him along and fall into dark depression like Tim post Old Trafford last season.

    Anyway, out of the darkness of this current form storm Nr Oxlade-Chamberlain has been an interesting spark thrust into the central role. Hope he can maintain and grow into a role that Ramsey doesn’t look good in at the moment and that Elneny can service but has yet to show he can physically cope with the premier league nor has he shown that he can provide something special. I do hope he can surprise me and shock Tim.

    Good luck to you all.

  9. Our players need to rise to the occasion…Cfc players doing just that. Lcfc players did that last season.
    Afc players ..arise…coygs.

  10. The thing I increasingly dislike about Arsene is the way he insults the intelligence of the fans. He comes across more and more as out of touch, when he says…

    “You cannot be a fan until last Tuesday and not be a fan anymore and not be behind the team this Saturday. It doesn’t make sense.”

    No, sir. Being a fan is telling you and/or the team that we are not satisfied with the job either of you are doing. This isn’t North Korea, and you are not some Maximum Leader. A significant number of bus think you lost the plot sometime ago, and we’ll continue to tell you so AND cheer the team on the field.

    No we don’t think you or that team have any chance of winning the title, and have not stopped being fans because we think so.

    1. I don’t think he’s asking for your support of him. I think he’s asking for your continued support of the team. i.e. don’t boo us if it’s still 0-0 at halftime because you’re still peeved about the last two games.

      He also goes on to say:
      “I want the fans to be behind the team. But at the same time, I am not fool enough not to know that the first priority is us and our dynamic inside the team that will create and facilitate the support of our fans. That is down to the quality of our performance.”

      I know you want him gone but you shouldn’t pick lines out of the press conference and then spin hyperbole around them.

  11. I think Wenger will stay. Among his many genuine qualities and equally genuine peccadilloes is a particularly stubborn streak made more intense because of his loyalty to Arsenal.

    We always say that Arsenal is Wenger so the reverse is also true. Wenger is Arsenal. The poor man is singularly wedded to a 20+ year relationship which he will not want to leave without at least one final trophy.

    Many of us no longer think he’s capable of delivering that but my gut says he’s going to go at least once more into the breach.

    1. Wenger isn’t Arsenal. He’s the greatest manager and the most consequential figure (player or manager) in its history, but he isn’t Arsenal. The club will go on long after he’s left, and was there long before he arrived. Of course, it suits him for people to think this way. I’m clear in my head that much as I love and revere Arsene, my support is for Arsenal FC, not its figurehead.

      What some of us are showing is fear of the unknown. It’s as in many people’s personal lives. The marriage has grown stale and unfulfilling, and you’re living on memories. I can understand why walking way can be hard.

      That’s is us, what about Arsene. He will never have total control without accountability at any other big club in the world, and get to be, in the process, one of the highest paid managers in the world.

      Does he think he can go once more into the breach? The old boxer is often the last to realise the obvious.

      1. Just saw your follow up on the last thread;

        Actually Tim was saying we didn’t need a plan to succeed Wenger. And a few others followed up to affirm feeling the same. Tim backs down a bit in this piece to a more moderate stance but on the previous piece, I was seriously having to argue for having a plan… and I think the point of this piece in part is to point out that some people would rather just blow the whole than continue with the same, even if they don’t know what the outcome will be.

  12. Some fans are angry enough to forgo a plan and just jump into the unknown unprepared and set up for failure as the club is forced to rebuild. They are surely in the minority and I very much doubt that the club plans are to jump blindly away from Wenger and rush on to a new manager who is likely to be the head coach and leave significant positions hanging. I also very much doubt that Arsene Wenger has anything but a strong plan for the future of Arsenal when he leaves. That planning may well already be underway or it may be the nucleus of the new and last deal that is allegedly on the table for Wenger. He is not the type of person to just walk away and leave a mess and nothing I have ever read about the man or heard from his mouth suggests that he wants anything other than the best for the club going into the future and indeed it seems to be very important to him that he helps the club toward greater success for years to come. Anything other than a planned smooth transition from the club and Wenger seems highly unlikely and would be a pretty silly way to go about change.

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