“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Not sure who wrote those immortal words originally, but I believe the words apply now more than ever. Naturally, I’m accurately describing Arsenal’s woeful 2011-2012 season. I’m a nice guy, and I don’t want to hold Arsene wholly accountable for the team’s woes, particularly due to the simple fact that, well, that’s what everybody else already does. Arsene is the recipient of so much finger-pointing, name-calling, and general verbal beat-downs, I’m half-way surprised he isn’t being blamed for the global financial crisis and the wars in the Mid East. I take that back–I think I may have stumbled across a website that claims Arsene personally flew both of the planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11.
I’ve seen teams experience miserable records, and as a result, the manager gets sacked or sent off to Siberia. I’ve seen these managers, who supposedly can’t coach their way out of a wet paper sack move on to a new team where they experience unprecedented winning records. Face it: That’s what we Arsenal fans fear most. Arsene will accept a position at the helm of Real Madrid, and then Real Madrid will suddenly become undefeatable. Stranger things have happened.
Wednesday night, Arsenal quite nearly made history. Unfortunately, there are times you don’t want to make history. There are certain activities you don’t want to use to gain access to the record books. The history that Arsenal nearly made last night would have gone in the “humiliating” column.
And, in case you haven’t been keeping track of the standings, ARSENAL IS NOW IN SEVENTH PLACE. I had hoped for a better performance from the Gunners, but these guys just can’t seem to catch a break.
I am a strong believer in the concept of momentum. I don’t know why, but I think there’s just something really bizarre happening at a cosmic level that can see a team’s destiny change for the better, all of a sudden, without warning, defying explanation. I’ve always believed in my heart of hearts that one shocking victory can inevitably translate into subsequent victories. I know that’s got to be one of the least scientific theories one could ever have, but when you factor in little things like, I don’t know, moral support and home field advantage, for instance, I just naturally assume that a team can change its own fortune. You’d also like to believe that most losing teams would prefer to start winning. Like most Arsenal fans, I live vicariously through my beloved Gunners, but Good Lord, I’m sick and tired of losing. It makes me feel like a loser, and I take that personally. I got treated like a loser enough in high school, and I thought those days were behind me.
Clearly, my theory about momentum does not apply to my own team. The team’s performance has been uneven at best, and they seem to be defying expectations with each passing game. You expect them to lose, they win (i.e., Aston Villa.) You expect them to win, they pull off a tie and fail to score (i.e., Bolton, Wednesday.)
Had Arsenal lost Wednesday night, Arsene would have officially lost four straight Premiere League games for the very first time in his long career (emphasis on the word “l-o-n-g,” considering Arsene has been helming the club for 16 years now, in case you’ve forgotten.) Arsenal spared Arsene this embarrassing accomplishment by managing to pull off an epic TIE against the Wanderers of Bolton.
According to my highly credible sources, my man Arsene Wenger is angling to recruit the talented Claudio Yacob from Argentina’s Racing Club. Claudio has been appropriately described as a “combative midfielder,” and there’s significant rationale to believe that he can really strengthen the sad-sack Arsenal club. The bad news: He can only be signed at the end of this season, when his contract with Racing Club is up, and it’s rather unlikely that Racing Club will allow him to go without a fight. Oh, and one more thing: He can’t help the Arsenal this season. So, there ya go.
On a related note, Arsene has expressed his faith that Arsenal can still turn things around and finish in the top four in the standings. He’s expressed his belief that Arsenal can still be competitive in both the FA Cup and the Champions League. Oh yeah, and Fran Drescher maintains that she was abducted by aliens. I’m not sure which assertion I’m more likely to believe, because both seem to defy logic.
What is the mark of a good manager? Is he a realist…Or an optimist? Should he always maintain hope that the team can finish well, even when the facts refute that assertion.
Do you ever have that odd feeling that you’ve missed out on something really special, truly near and dear to your heart, only to realize that you didn’t really miss out on anything at all? Somehow, in the midst of a very busy week, I didn’t even realize that Arsenal was playing last night. I was angry and frustrated that I had missed the match and strongly considering self-flagellation as a means of paying penance for my unforgivable sin. Then, lo and behold, I saw the score: 0-0. Are you kidding me? Nil-Nil?! Needless to say, I put my whip back in the cupboard and spared my legs a good lashing. Face it: I hadn’t actually “missed” anything at all.
So, Arsene’s struggles continue. The match can’t be counted as a loss, per se–But failing to score counts as a loss in most people’s eyes.
My “Points for Effort” Award: Robin van Persie. Rob had a chance to score after beating the Bolton goalkeeper like a red-headed step-child, but the ball bounced off the goal-posts. Technically, the ball didn’t go in the net, and no points were added, so Arsenal didn’t win…But I’ll always give Rob credit where it’s due.
It’s official: 20-year-old midfielder and potential wunderkind Jack Wilshere is out for the season. He went in for a routine scheduled scan, only to learn that his stress fracture had not recovered. Actually, to be completely accurate, it appears that his original stress fracture may or may not have healed–he seems to have sustained yet another stress fracture to the same ankle. For the uninformed, a stress fracture is a hairline crack in the bone; it doesn’t sound all that badI’ve known a lot of athletes in my time, and I’ll tell you right now that stress fractures are very painful, debilitating, and utterly frustrating, because the only means by which to recover is rest, rest, and more rest. Once you initially start to feel better (less or no pain), you believe you’re ready to get back to training, but if the injured bone hasn’t 100% healed, you are susceptible to a recurring injury. It’s really quite awful. Wilshere has already been out for quite some time now, and the outlook for the duration of the season is dire. Jack will not only not be there to support the Gunners in their bid for the Cup, he’ll likewise have to sit out the 2012 Euro Cup. Arsenal’s loss is therefore the loss of the entire nation of England and all who pull for England’s national football team.
Naturally, our hopes and prayers are with Jack, and on behalf of Arsenal and Team England fans everywhere, I’d like to say “Get well soon.” Lord knows the Gunners need you, kid.
Seeing as how this is my final post until Monday, and Arsenal is playing Blackburn tomorrow at Emirates, I’d like to wish my team the very best of luck. I’m living vicariously through the Gunners, and I feel like kicking someone’s teeth in right now. If anyone is going to be the unlucky recipient of the collective angst of millions of Arsenal fans, I think it should be the Rovers…Not Arsene.