This week’s Arsenal controversies… let’s see.. I could list them all out, I could even link to them all, but the thing with fire is that it needs oxygen to survive. So, I’m not even going to mention them.
The bottom line is that Arsenal are top of the table and playing good football. The dressing room seems settled and the players and manager are happy. More importantly, the team and the fans have a really good connection and lots of fans who have been upset at the style of football – and missteps in transfers – over the last two years are enjoying this new brand of football.
This upsets pretty much everyone. My maxim is “there’s a right way, a wrong way, and the Arsenal way.” Because we don’t always do things the so-called “right way” we often get a lot of stick from conservative football fans. The right way would have been, I dunno, hire Allegri or something. The wrong way would have been to fire every manager after an 8th place finish. The Arsenal way has been to stick with a young manager who was learning on the job, to spend heavily to support that manager, and to believe that in the end it will turn out good. Not many clubs would have done that. Not many clubs would have stuck with Wenger for 22 years. We are an unusual club in a lot of ways. But the important thing is that it looks like the decision to stick with Arteta and back him at every turn is turning good. Arsenal are top of the table. This is deeply upsetting to some people and they are lashing out at anything they can get their hands on, including the decision to play a 15 year old.
This is the inevitable byproduct of Arsenal being good at football again. Unlike other clubs, like Spurs, when Arsenal are good at football people lose their fucking minds. It’s because we are iconoclasts. And because we are different and do things differently we are going to get a lot of angry people who want to tear us down.
I’m not saying Arsenal are going to win the League. Man City are too strong for that right now. Plus, we will get our inevitable blip and when we do, we need to see how the club, players, and management react. That blip will be the really telling part for this club this season. That’s what I’m waiting to see because it will be something new, hopefully!
One last thing that happens during these, the good times: some fans like to use this moment to “score points” on people they disagreed with in the past. Fair enough, get your digs in once or twice. More than fair to have a go at people who maybe were a bit over the top with their criticism or maybe were overly heated in their arguments. But like I say, once or twice. Saying the same thing over and over again in the comments sections here or on twitter, bringing up old arguments and trying to shame people for having a different opinion than you in the past is actually part of the same impulse that fuels the shitheads at Talksport. On twitter I block and mute people who do that crap. I’m not interested in reading those arguments or having arguments with tedious people. And I’m even less interested in reading that tedium here.
There are a TON of things we could be talking about instead of “scoring points” or continuously dragging up old arguments. Also, we don’t even need to talk about the manufactured controversies from Talksport, the Sun, the Daily Mail or any of the other supposed “news” outlets.
For example, we all can see that Arteta changed his system in the last 9 months. The most obvious beneficiary of that has been Granit Xhaka as this article lays out. See? PLENTY to talk about!
So, that’s my assignment and yours. Talk about something new. And if you cannot? Well that’s fine, but please go to twitter, reddit, or somewhere else and don’t do it here. Cool?
Link for the Xhaka piece is broken.
Here’s the right one: https://www.sportinglife.com/football/news/granit-xhaka-is-relishing-his-new-arsenal-midfield-role/203728
Thanks for that Adam. Great read
Ah interesting, thank you!
Tim, remember that time in 1888 when you argued that moving from Plumstead Common to Manor Ground was a bad decision that would ruin the club?
I do. I remember.
And now Xhaka is killing it. Didn’t see that coming, did you? And it’s all because of that move to Manor Ground, and you know it.
The thing is, I don’t care what other clubs do – that’s up to them. Apart from Arsenal, I only care about one other team – my home town club, Grimsby Town.
Some of the media outlets mentioned in the main article above, are generically anti Arsenal. They didn’t like us when we were “weak” – they absolutely hate us when we are strong. The “Us against the World” thing that Arteta sort of projects works, because “they” give us so much fodder to work with.
That’s how we become even styronger and they hate it!
“…because we are iconoclasts.”
I’ve been thinking the same for a good while now. A lot of Gooners I know are all just a slight bit off, mostly in good ways. Some celebrity fans too. People hate Pierce Morgan but despite disagreeing with a lot of his opinions, I like him. He has attitude but he’s not doctrinaire. A classic iconoclast.
I feel a connection with other supporters because, as Elton sings in “Bennie and Jets”, “they’re weird and they’re wonderful”. Just like the Mighty Arsenal.
Elton John is a Watford supporter.
Here’s something new I thought about. I’m tired of Efan Okoku. I’m tired of Alan Shearer. I’m tired of Martin Tyler and the whole proper football old boys’ cabal. Can we please get some new blood in the commentary booths? I’d like to hear someone talk about the game who has something new to say. I’d like to hear someone who appreciates the subtleties of modern football and can speak about them fluidly, sort of like Romo or Neville when they first started. I’d like to hear from someone who is in touch with modern day footballers and understands what it’s like to be one of them. I’d like to hear from someone who appreciates the new data driven approaches to understanding the game. On all these counts the old guard is a big fat zero. They have their name recognition and their accents and apparently that’s all you need to keep your job broadcasting live games for millions of viewers every week for 30 years.
Even Arseblog just published a commentary piece from Graham Dougan, a player from the 70’s who nobody cares about or remembers, to air his dismay at Gabriel’s social media jibe at Ivan Toney. Because when Toney did it it was cheeky and fun, but when Gabriel does it back, it’s classless and crass and would never have happened in his day. Basically he’d rather have 38 more stitches in his scrotum than stoop as low as Gabriel did. Graham would like you all to send your thoughts and prayers to poor old Ivan Toney, victim, and hopes that the whole ordeal won’t throw off his England performance.
I’m so tired of the cliches and truisms and the subtle bias in the commentary booths against Arsenal and City and any club that tries to win with technique instead of blood and thunder. Former Arsenal players like Lee Dixon are actually some of the worst ones at this, as if they are intent on proving to the brotherhood that they don’t subscribe to such heresy. Or how the color analyst coaches the team playing against Arsenal the whole time, or the palpable disappointment from the play by play guy when Arsenal do put a team to the sword. The US broadcasts at least try to focus on the positives and celebrate the winning team but in the UK when you lose to Arsenal it must be because the opposition didn’t try hard enough (read: didn’t kick them enough). And when Arsenal lose its because they don’t have the “stones” or the “bottle” (basically not English enough) and not because of the bounce of the ball or because the other team was just better on the day.
There you go, my rant about British football punditry. I keep waiting for it to change and it never does.
I believe the Dougan byline is a satirical character lampooning exactly what you’re (quite rightly) ranting about. Or am I being whooshed?
You’re probably right and I probably fell for it 😂
In that case, brilliant.
It is lol
Thing is, sometimes it’s not quite funny or outrageous enough that it’s clearly parody. When I saw the first of this articles it kept me guessing for a bit
Thought so too
Good read and hard to disagree with, doc. You have a writer’s heart.
I love Ian Wright because he’s always just Wrighty. Honest and loud and often right, right, wright!
He’s pretty insightful too. Love that guy.
Agreed. Not the commentary, but when we first started getting English football broadcast here all the studio analysis and pre match buildup was from the Singapore studio, and it was honestly just so much better than the ‘stick an ex-footballer of each club to talk about them’ we get now from London.
The highest profile pundit was Steve McMahon of the 89 Liverpool 1 minute to go fame. Along with him were a couple of Englishmen, an occasional Aussie and a former Singapore international (Spurs fan but fair). I miss having them discuss and dissect the matches. They were fair, fun, sometimes bristly but always genuine and not stuck in their ideas and speaking from on high.
Good rant! I agree we do need new commentators. Since I watch a lot of football from all over the world, it is noticeable how odd the commentary is in England. In La Liga they put data right on the field, they have graphics which show the yards to the goal on a DFK, they talk about xG, so on. Serie A commentary is mainly American voices and it’s just a lot less.. just less. It’s often kind of barren in terms of commentary.
As for the fight and energy thing it’s not limited to Arsenal and it’s also the managers who employ this canard. Lampard says it literally every time his team loses.
I think it’s a cultural thing: stiff upper lip, Oxbridge masculinity, all that sort of stuff.
It’s ok to feel how you feel. Just make your peace with it.
I listen to Football Weekly and I keep trying to give Max Rushden the benefit, however, I find him a bit snide and overly earnest. Why? Cause he can’t stand us at all. But the cast can act a such a good foil that it’s often worth it.
One man’s treasure…
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