It just doesn’t matter

If comedy is tragedy plus time then one day all of this will be funny. There are moments of humor even now. I was listening to the official Arsenal podcast and they titled one show “Cech’s Keeping Masterclass”. Petr Cech has basically chucked the ball into his own net 6 times this season, more than any other player, and we are witnessing the devolution of this once great player with each passing match. That part’s not funny, but the official site putting out a podcast with that title (to celebrate his 300th career clean sheet) is darkly funny. Like Chemical Ali saying “there are no bombs dropping on Baghdad” while bombs are dropping on Baghdad.

The thing that bothers me is the indifference that’s setting in. The opposite of love is not hate it’s indifference as we have been told by Elie Wiesel. I don’t hate or love this Arsenal team, I watch them instead with a sort of vague indifference. In the past when we lost matches I would be ruined for a few days after. Now, it’s just expected.

Lackluster performances and mental errors: disorganization at the back and silly goals. And the expectation is that players who consistently make those errors will continue playing week in and week out. Mustafi can’t be dropped because it will harm his resell value – though playing him is also hurting his resell value. Cech can’t be dropped because Ospina. Wilshere won’t be dropped because Arsene is trying to convince him to stay at Arsenal. On and on through the team. And the one man who should be dropped, Arsene Wenger, isn’t going to drop himself because he somehow believes that this is all just a mystery – a real stumper as to why his team are performing like this.

The only thing that worries me is the future.

Kroenke Jr. is setting up to take over the club this summer and that means big changes are coming. If Wenger wins the Europa League, they will give him an extension. If not, he will be fired. Liverpool once fired Kenny Dalglish for a mid-table finish and Kenny Dalglish is a hero in Liverpool. Kroenke Jr. is not afraid to make big changes and I think his boardroom shuffle at the very least will strip Wenger of most of his non-coaching duties. Again, if and only if Arsenal win the Europa League.

As for the remaining League matches, the League position literally doesn’t matter. Maybe Burnley will finish above Arsenal. In the past, I wrote huge articles filled with fear that “Everton might catch us” or “we are closer to Aston Villa than Man U”. But that duck was broken last year, when Arsene finished below Spurs for the first time. Now, we are 100% out of the race for 4th for the first time in Wenger’s career and as supporters we are faced with the unenviable “players have one foot in Ibiza” end of season run-in. Five more games of this. West Ham, Man U, Burnley, Leicester, and Huddersfield. Three away matches too, folks.

This is what Arsenal have become. A club where a loss to bottom-of-the-table-upon-Tyne is greeted with “I saw that coming” more than “WTF???”



  1. It’s a depressing to read snippets such as these:-

    Arsenal have not earned a single away point in 2018.

    Arsenal have lost five successive away matches in the league for the first team since December 1984.

    Arsenal’s eleven Premier League defeats, so far, this season equals the worst tally in a season under Arsene Wenger.

    1. I did a whole “By the Numbers” post on all the records I could find that Wenger has broken this season.. and we just keep adding to them.

  2. Total indifference is exactly how I feel. I don’t think I can face another league game this season. Potentially only 3 games to the end of the season as far as I’m concerned. Realistically only 2, and I feel I will have definitely earned 3 months off football.

  3. Time to mourn n time to we mourn jus as evry oda club has mourned.liverool ,totenham, man city ,maan u all mourned at aa time.nows arsenals time.

  4. A club where a
    loss to bottom-of-the-
    table-upon-Tyne is greeted
    with “I saw that coming”
    more than “WTF???”

    This totally sums up my relationship with the Arsenal right now, i can’t even think of any positve about Arsenal right.

    And am not even asking for too much, i just want to watch beauty football again, mesmerizing movements with and off the ball…

  5. When CSKA scored the second goal the other night I was actually excited – ooohhh, some adrenaline now. Had we scored early to put them 4 goals down I very likely would have turned the game off.

    We play Auba and Laca together on Sunday and it’s downright uninspired football. How many touches did Auba actually get? Bleh.

    There’s no sense of a great project being undertaken like you see at Liverpool or Spurs right now. It has more of a feeling of just marking time until this manager is off. I sincerely hope you’re wrong and that Wenger will be fired either way, win or lose the Europa League. If he comes back next year I could not be less interested; we’re not going from 7th to 1st as though City, United, Liverpool et al are going to stand still this summer, we’re not going to be in Europe and FA Cup/League Cup – been there, done that.

  6. I’m not sure Mustafi plays because of resale value. I think it’s because there really aren’t any better options, which is itself an indictment on the quality of Holding and Chambers, neither of whom have ever convinced that they are up to playing week in and week out at the highest levels of football. Mustafi is, if anything, marginally better because he can, on occasion, full out some great defending and passing awareness.

    Basically, our defensive set-up as a whole is a shambles. Mustafi is the lightning rod for a systemic problem — rightly so, I suppose — and the problems run so deep that I find it difficult to be enraged by him as an individual. Our goalkeeping situation is a disaster, we don’t play a DM, we leave our CBs exposed for ninety minutes while our fullbacks are caught in the final third, and the last time we bought well for any defensive position was eight years ago with Koscielny. Monreal, I suppose, has worked out well for us, but he is looking tired and/or average these days after a brief spark in February. Bellerin is regressing.

    1. Mustafi will probably stay. I can’t see us seelling him, replacing him AND getting in one or two new CBs. The only way I see if he agitates for a move sufficiently to be sold, but then again, where could he go? Right now it would be mid-table like Everton, if he’s really, reaqlly lucky Inter still see something in him but other than that I can’t see a CL club coming in for him.

  7. My feeling is more ennui than indifference. There is vague weariness, a lassitude now when I watch The (once mighty) Arsenal. I watch because I feel I must “have to” because the club is still a big, major part of who I am as a sports fan. I literally can’t do anything else even though there are lots of mundane things which would occupy my time more productively and make long suffering Wife-of1-Nil a happier camper.

    I know one thing after seeing this latest insipid shire: Wenger will not be manager next season. I.e., This Arsenal side cannot win a European trophy. We have every chance of being humiliated, not just eliminated by an Atletico Madrid side who should be absolutely licking their chops at the prospect of having a go at us.

  8. Actually the real humiliation is just around the between the Europa cup matches is Manure & Maureen who will be licking their lips at a disorganised,weakened,tactically inept Arsenal 2nd team that Wenger is going to put out.if thought the 8-2 was bad I shudder to think what will happen here.& our clueless shameless manager wont care a jot.

    1. If we beat West Ham this Sunday, and lose to United (both probable scenarios), then our game against Burnley will be for the Sixth Place Trophy!

  9. I don’t want another Arsene season as I fear nothing will be as bad for Arsenal so I am in the perverse position of hoping we don’t win the Europa matches. How crazy is that?

    1. Would you rather:

      a) Win the Europa League trophy and have Wenger in charge for one more year.


      b) Lose the Europa League trophy and have Wenger leave this summer.

      I’m still pretty much leaning towards a), because a trophy is a trophy is a trophy. But I don’t think it makes any difference what we feel. No way we’re winning the Europa League with this team. Even if by some miracle our “defense” survives two legs against Madrid, I guarantee the players will underestimate and lose to the other finalist, such the “mental stwengf” of Wenger’s Arsenal.

      The really excruciating thought for me is the idea that Wenger stays on even when we do get dumped out of the Europa League. Josh Kroenke won’t let that happen, will he?

      1. I have a weird feeling that we are going to win the Europa League.

        Getting this lot over two legs is the best thing that could have happened to Arsenal. Definitely don’t want to face them in the final.

        1. If you don’t mind me asking, why do you think two legs v Atletico would be better than 1? Honest question.

          The theory I’ve heard for the opposing view is that over more games luck becomes less of a factor, and if luck is less of a factor we should be comfortably floored. Just wondering what you think of that assessment, and what informs yours.

          1. “If you don’t mind me asking, why do you think two legs v Atletico would be better than 1? Honest question.”

            Here’s my logic:
            Arsenal are a decent home team and I fancy them against Atleti at home.
            If they can keep a clean sheet( big ask) , then even though they suck away, they might get lucky and score a goal or two in Spain.
            Also, the have been in this sort of situation ( playing two legs against top European competition), granted, with underwhelming results most of the time but still.

            A final against Atleti would be an away game and a high pressure environment most Arsenal players haven’t seen at club level.
            I think our snowflakes would $hit their pants from nervousness.
            They still might but against the other two opponents they have a chance even with soiled pants.

        2. I actually pray that you’re wrong. I’d much rather be out of this competition if it means Wenger leaves. I wish he’d bowed out with dignity after that first FA Cup win in 2014

        3. I don’t get that idea at all. In theory, the better team will have twice the opportunity to demonstrate that they’re better, where in a one-off game the weaker team may be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Do you think Arsenal are a better team than Atletico? I don’t see that at all. That defense is fierce, Oblak is a wall and Costa and Griezman are very good strikers. That is not a combination we do well against.

      2. Win a trophy every time.

        He’s still sackable regardless, you know. Even with the choice you present, I’m taking the cup and Wenger.

        1. Me too. European trophy? Wanting your team to lose? Things are out of hand if the question is even being asked.

  10. Hey Tim,
    If I haven’t said it before on here, I really enjoy your By The Numbers column over at Arseblog. Really adds depth to understanding the bigger picture through the numbers and stats. Places into context turbid and why of the good and the bad.
    But dude when it gets all depressing as it has been a lot of this season, please accept that we live in the era of Fake News. So please…make up some good s%&t now and again. And not just about the size of the crowds at Emirates Stadium. But like how great we are and how “so many people say” how good we are defensively.

  11. Also, really pleased to see City win the title this season. For sustained periods this season they played football the likes of which I have never seen in the English league, including during the Invincibles era. They haven’t been perfect, mind, and a few teams have provided the blueprint for getting the beating of them, blueprints that Arsenal would have done well to follow in our league cup game.

    As for the rest of the top four, I hope Liverpool finish 2nd. They are a pleasure to watch, and Mo Salah has been incredible (how do Liverpool always manage to get a talismanic goalscorer at their club?).

    1. My predictron already has Liverpool winning the League next season.

      And the Champions League this season.

      1. I agree with the CL prediction, actually. They’ll beat Real Madrid in the final by 3-0.

        As for the PL, no idea. Liverpool have had a number of false dawns in the last six years or so, when a decisive end to the season created expectations for the next, much like how our FA Cup victories since 2014 have deluded us into thinking Wenger has regained his mojo.

        I just feel Liverpool and Man City have been this year’s teams to watch, but it’s often the case that those are the very teams that underwhelm in the season following.

      2. You’re both mad.

        Or related to Jamie Carragher.

        Liverpool will not get lucky again they way did against City.

        Nobody’s taking this one off Madrid.

    2. “how do Liverpool always manage to get a talismanic goalscorer at their club?”

      Because they look for and buy them.

      We do too but it’s difficult. We have Auba now and he’s going to be surprisingly good for us. For about a year and a half.

  12. I should say it’s not all bad.

    The combination of Auba and Laca is electric. I can’t wait to see them play next year. The problem is that every other player on this team, save Ramsey and Ozil, needs to be sold and upgraded.

    That’s probably unfair to Elneny. He can stay on as a backup.

    1. OK, Tim I will take the bait. You have to say Mkhi has been, and will be a class player for Arsenal. I think Bellerin would thrive under a new manager. And Nacho doesn’t HAVE to go right away. And while I have pilloried Xhaka as much as anyone, I do see some noticeable improvements there. So I think there are a handful of players who could get significant playing time if not start on a very strong side. But without managerial change, it doesn’t matter. A new manager with a coherent system and consistent team selection could do a lot better, even with our existing players.

      1. I mean, haven’t we been with Xhaka last year towards the tail-end of the season at exact the same point? It all culminated in the Cup final and he looked like a decent to good player. Now he’s looking good again and all is forgotten? He’s looking good because the opposition is weaker. He still has the turning radius of a tank and he’ still helpless when pressed.

  13. BTW – Josh is canning Wenger, win or lose the EL. The poor league performance and empty seats are causing the club to lose prestige, which will damage licensing revenue, and sponsorship deals. He has turned around the Nuggets and Rams and is eager to start on his next project. I think Josh knows even if we win EL, sneaking into the CL only to get knocked out in qualifying and then having another dreadful PL finish isn’t going to cut it. Josh will do what Stan can’t/won’t.

    1. I mean what better way to distinguish himself and stamp his authority on the club than to fire Wenger?

    2. I wonder when people say Josh is going to do this, or do that. What do we know about Josh Kroenke? Google him. There’s nothing there. He’s a 37 year old silver-spoon scion of a billionaire family who very briefly interned at the NBA and now according to his Wikipedia page likes to “read Harry Potter and watch Entourage.” For real? There is exactly zero evidence that Josh Kroenke even knows how to tie his own shoes and wipe his own a$$, never mind run a professional sports organization properly.

      When people say “Josh will get rid of Wenger once and for all”, I wonder what gives people that impression?

      1. What I’m getting it is not about his competence or my belief in his skills, but about my perception the PR-spin. His stint at London was well publicised and I don’t think, especially at this club, that those things are random scoops by journalists that happen to run into him in a London café. Same goes for that famous snapshot of our delegation in Dortmund. We didn’t get those things before, so why are they leaking now? The Arsenal boardroom wasn’t anything but a formality, Phillipe Auclair talked about these things on many occasions, until now. I don’t believe the spin per se, not the content of the messaging is the point, but the fact that there is messaging being put out is significant.

  14. And to add to that, is very public “internship” at Arsenal, the conveniently leaked photos of the new transfer crew arriving in Dortmund to hammer out the deal for Auba, these are signs of people positioning themselves to take control. Then again it could also be just a way of avoiding charges of neglect during the continued stagnation and downturn.

  15. It was Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, wasn’t it? Am I mis-remembering that? Chemical Ali was the, well, the chemical guy.

  16. when i got up and saw the team sheet for sunday’s game, i thought to myself “why is arsenal throwing this game?” i didn’t watch it.

    defending cech, the two goals conceded against cska were not his fault. he made very good saves and his defenders didn’t follow the play. when he was at chelsea, those shots wouldn’t have led to goals. the chelsea defenders would have followed the shots and cleared their lines. arsenal’s team of merry crap defenders simply watched opposition players follow shots, which is what all half-decent strikers do, and finish simple chances. cech made textbook saves, diverting the ball to good areas. he can’t clear the balls too.

  17. Is Josh Kroenke going to be getting more direct control over Arsenal? If he is, I can well imagine him wanting to make a statement.

    All the same, Wenger isn’t George Karl. He’s much bigger than that. And to fire him (unless he decides to accept walking away) would be a huge blow to the image of Arsenal as a ‘family club’. It might not mean much in the corporate, win at all costs, atmosphere that is promoted in the EPL, but a huge reason for Arsenal’s following in Asia, despite their lack of PL wins is that culture/brand identity. You don’t send your old folks away. This may not be a huge consideration, but it will be a consideration.

    Especially because they might just want to keep Wenger, the known quantity, while they complete the rebuild process. The attack has been rebuilt. Now for the midfield and defense. I think we all ought to be hoping to win the EL to get into the CL just for the extra 30-40m in budget.

    None of the appointments made in the backroom staff seem to me to be part of a coup. Part of managing the change, sure. Wenger himself has to be a part of that. So I’m not sure Wenger will be fired. Not for the ‘sameness’ or the bad defending. It would take the immediate availability of the next guy we have in mind to force this. More likely, Wenger sees out his contract.

    Also, our youth seem to be having a very good season this time around. Look for 2 or 3 of them to break into the first team squad next time around. Particularly if our budget doesn’t cover signings in all areas of need.

  18. I’ve seen all kinds of reasons given for sticking with Wenger but not offending the Asian market’s sensibilities in regards to how you treat your elderly is a new one for me.

    If you think this season has been bad, wait to see how the players respond to the lame duck Wenger next season.

    1. It’s not specifically about the elderly, but yes, Arsenal’s culture and underlying brand identity promotes something beyond just winning, which is why our fanbase has expanded even during lean years. I think you’ll find that Wenger enjoys greater support internationally than in England, even if they realise that someone else could be better. I’m not sure throwing him out would be a great look for the brand. I did say it would not be a huge consideration, but still a consideration. Especially because Wenger’s job as stabiliser/placeholder/lame duck is not necessarily a bad thing in the middle of a rebuild. Unless they have the man they want ready and willing to take over immediately.

      I remember when the demand was for a ‘succession plan’. But having one means a ‘lame duck’ manager. Can’t win with that sort of argument.

      Also understand, I was only saying what I think might happen as opposed to this certainty that Josh Kroenke is going to take over, and that he’s then going to fire Wenger.

  19. I get what you’re saying.
    However, I don’t believe in rebuilding a club without addressing the position of manager first, regardless whether he’s solely responsible for player recruitment or works with a committee.
    For me it’s like putting a cart in front of the horse.
    But this is Arsenal so anything is possible.

  20. if you imagine the worst case scenario of Arsenal getting humiliated by Atleti and finishing below Burnley then “throwing him out” might not be necessary.

    Even with Wenger’s hubris he might be lost for words as to why he should continue into his last year.

    Other than I never break a contract nonsense of course.

    1. True. Wenger might walk. But it’s not nonsense. He’s refused to break contracts to walk on to bigger things.

      Also, as regards to addressing the position of manager first. I’m not so sure. I mean I get it and don’t disagree and that’s why I said if the guy they want is ready and available now then sure. But if not, I think a known quantity like Wenger, and also in view of his place in the club’s history, completing the rebuild with him in charge is preferable to just bringing anyone in.

      My feeling is Wenger is going to stay another season.

    2. Im of the view that even if he wins the Europa, he should go. But he won’t. He should be told that this is his last season, regardless.

      Arsene’s no longer in a position to choose the time of his departure.

  21. “Judge me in May” has been Wenger’s mantra over recent seasons. Well May is only a few weeks away, so a decision on his future cannot be much delayed.

    If he is not offered a contract extension then he will undoubtedly be seen as a lame duck. This will have a serious impact on the summer transfer window as potential recruits will want to know their long-term future will not reliant on a new manager who may well want to make changes to the squad he inherits.

    We have already surrendered the Top Four Trophy, there is possibly something to be said for a “top six” side, but there is no such thing as a “top seven” team, that is mid table mediocrity.

    It is imperative that whoever is running the club must bite the bullet and clear the decks ready for the new man to take over in June.

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