For a variety of time constraint reasons that I won’t go into, this blog has been somewhat neglected of late. The most frustrating thing is that I’ve only had time to write after matches that have gone badly – Newcastle, United, Blackburn, yet every time we’ve won a match, I haven’t been around to pen anything.
Last weekend, before the victory over Bolton, I said on Twitter that you could thank me for our upcoming victory, because I knew I’d have no time to write about it afterwards, so clearly we would win. The bad news is that I will be able to comment on this afternoon’s derby. Uh oh, indeed.
I’ll get to the Spurs game later, but I want to take a quick look back at the last fortnight, and comment on the frankly hilarious portrayals in the press. Now, before I start, let me state that I understand the way the media works. They are not looking to be fair, to be reasonable or to avoid offending people. They are looking to sell papers, and right now stories about Arsenal being in crisis sell papers, just like equivalent columns on Liverpool did this time last year. So there is a natural slant to many pieces (not all – I can understand the frustration of those in the press that do aim to be fair), but sometimes the agenda is so painfully obvious that you can only laugh.
Take the Carling Cup game. We attracted a ‘mere’ 46359 people to a home game against a side three divisions below us. Yes, it was the lowest attendance at the Emirates, but frankly that is only because our attendances are always so high. The Sun and Sky Sports tried to make an enormous deal about this ‘disastrous‘ figure, one that was still higher than any other in the round. When the ‘fanatical’ City fans failed to sell out their smaller stadium in their first ever home Champions League tie, what did we hear? That’s right, nothing.
That one made me chuckle, but the Champions League reports just flat out irritated me. The comparison between the write-ups for United and Arsenal were baffling – we played the weakest side in our group at home, went 2-0 up, then relaxed, let them back into it at 2-1, but held on for the win. United also played the weakest side in their group at home, also went 2-0 up and also relaxed and let their opposition back in. However, they conceded three times before grabbing a late equaliser.
Net result? We were ‘wobbly and unconvincing‘ while they ‘showed the hallmark resilience of champions‘. Give me strength.
Arsenal were the only English side to win in the Champions League this week, not that you would have known it from the press, but what struck me the most is how the other three fell into the exact traps that we have become accustomed to witnessing Arsenal plummet into. Take a read of these and see if they sounds at all familiar:
United – played great football and controlled the game before getting complacent, making silly defensive mistakes and letting the opposition back in. Urgency only shown at the end of the game when losing. [Arsenal of the last 18 months – great going forward, terrible in defence]
Chelsea – dominated the game, missed a hatful of chances before conceding a stupid and unnecessary late equaliser. [Arsenal of the last four years]
City – insipid performance away from home in Europe, ravaged with indiscipline (Arsenal of the late 90s, early 2000s)
Essentially, each of the three took Arsenal’s collective flaws of the last ten years, rolled them into a package and barfed out a disappointing result. And all three were praised – United for their resilience, Chelsea for creating so many opportunities, and City for the way they handled the Tevez affair. Meanwhile Arsenal, the only English winners, were ripped from pillar to post.
As I said, I understand the media slant, and the reasons behind it. Expecting it to change in the short term is unrealistic. But it would be nice if there were reports on the match itself, rather than how the match could be spun to fit preconceived agendas and ideas. Because frankly, that gets pretty tiresome.
All of which brings me neatly to this afternoon. Spurs, the Sky Sports darlings (probably because of the endless interviews ‘arry gives – seriously, does he spend any time with his squad?) are the pre-match favourites, a fact that was amusing me greatly while they were a goal down to part-timers Shamrock Rovers on Thursday night, and we are, of course, in ‘disarray’. We certainly have issues – the continuing injuries to Vermaelen, Koscielny and Djourou mean that Song will again partner Mertesacker at the back, while Gervinho’s absence means the woefully out of form Arshavin will surely get another chance, but I would be very interested to see how an Arsenal win would be reported.
Right now, Spurs are the chosen ‘free ride’ club. I’m not sure quite why, but you’ll struggle to find negative stories about them anywhere, and we have very much taken Liverpool’s ‘disaster club’ mantle. So how would they react to a convincing away victory?
I don’t honestly think we will get that resounding win, because nothing is ever comfortable in these games anymore. But last season’s pair of fixtures were painful in the extreme, and we owe them.
Time to deliver. Come on Arsenal.