Arsenal have a big big game today. With just ten games left Arsenal face a 7 point gap between themselves and fourth place Manchester City. Even further up the table are the dreaded Tottenham Hotspurs. Arsenal have finished above Tottenham every season for 21 years but now with Tottenham holding an 11 point lead and challenging for the League title whilst Arsenal have taken just four points from their last seven matches it’s looking like even if Tottenham falter it would take a miracle of biblical proportions for Arsenal to top them. It would be a true St. Totteringham’s Day.
At the very least, Arsenal have to win all their remaining fixtures if they want to finish in the top four. We can’t expect that others will drop points. We have to play the kind of urgent football that, until now, Arsenal haven’t been able to muster. Judging by the fact that Xhaka was traipsing back to cover for the defense when Kun Aguero scored the second for City this weekend, it would have to be a 180 degree turnaround in the attitude and application of these players and in the team preparation by the manager.
If not, then Arsenal face the Apocalypse. Losing out on Champions League means not only reduced revenue but a built-in excuse for Alexis to leave (“he wants to win the Champions League”), for Arsenal to claim poverty in the transfer market, and for big name players to refuse to sign for Arsenal (see Alexis). Arsenal would probably keep Özil, though. Or if Özil showed some ambition and left Arsenal would have a built-in reason to start Jack Wilshere, fresh from his highly successful loan period with Bournemouth. And Ramsey could be made co-captain, along with Ox.
I guess, what I’m saying is that I’ve been thinking about end times. Not because I’m suicidal or because I believe in some biblical eschatology but because I read the actual newspaper and pay attention to the world around me and what I see happening in the world are systems collapsing. In Syria, in Ukraine, in Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, and yes, I see the systems collapsing around me here in the USA.
I’m not just being reactionary about the USA. When the news media are ignored because they are fake news, when fake news is consumed because it’s comforting, when our free and fair elections are questioned by the winner, when we have alternative facts, and a government which not only refuses to govern but which actively seeks to destroy the very system itself, then we have system collapse.
We tend to think of end times as a sudden event. We like to look at one moment and see that as the turning point: when I was a child we thought there would be nuclear war, we were taught that Rome burned while Nero fiddled, and in my own evangelical tradition that one day Angels will rain down from heaven, trumpets blaring, and the righteous will rise up to heaven in a glorious rapture.
Even our movies are filled with this sudden change theory of end times. In the original Night of the Living Dead an unexplained space phenomena brings the dead back to life and people are suddenly thrust into a fight for survival.
But Dawn of the Dead provides an oddly familiar but alternative story line to the collapse of the world. In Dawn of the Dead, the new system is in place and zombies roam the cities. A group of survivors hole up in a shopping mall where they have all the food, clothing, shelter, warmth, and even guns and ammo that they could possibly need. And with doors barricaded and the wealth of the masses horded all to themselves they live like kings, for a while.
Soon, though, the system that they created to insulate themselves from the horrors of the world collapses. Other survivors want what they got and they will take it from them or burn it to the ground. The system that the mall dwellers had set up provided them with temporary security and fleeting wealth.
The history of humanity is one of collapsing systems, no matter how beautiful and secure we build our mall on the hill, no matter how tall the walls around it, and no matter how abundant the resources within, all walls collapse. And they don’t collapse suddenly. They take centuries in the case of the Roman empire, or a decade in the case of The Arsenal.