One of the goals in the Twelve-step programme is making amends for past errors – in other words, the shambolic crescendo at Wigan’s DW Stadium yesterday which Arsenal will have to begin repairing against Manchester City this weekend. Subsequently, it will be Arsene Wenger’s job to fix the mess altogether come the summer transfer window.
Another step in the programme is learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour. Perhaps Wenger should consider signing the team up, not just for the relaxed way Arsenal went about things while sitting on a two goal lead against Wigan, but really for an attitude that has blighted their success for the past five years.
I can’t help but think the club as a whole have helped pile this misery on themselves though. There is an episode of the American cartoon South Park, where hypochondriac Randy Marsh has to attend alcoholics anonymous for drunk driving, only to believe he has an unalterable disease when told he is powerless to control his addiction. In turn, this only leads to Randy drinking even more.
There I was, watching Arsenal capitulate to the same familiar fate, just like a self-help group who had once again fallen to their weakness, this one a team who often prove incapable of seeing out games. It’s what the television pundits always talk about when discussing Arsenal, the football phone-ins, the tabloids, and to a large extent, us as fans. Against Wigan, and just like Randy, Arsenal were powerless to forget how shaky they can be when against the cosh.
There is always this talk about Arsenal not being mature enough, not having the canny ability to close out games, and being in desperate lack of a winner’s mentality. The team appeared to be in control, but one Wigan goal with ten minutes to go was as if Arsenal had taken a sip of alcohol. What followed was their demise into a drunken state, where two more goals were as predictable as an alcoholic having “just the one” and adding to a decline which is becoming increasingly hard to get out of.
It’s ironic that the point I’m making is exactly the source of the problem which seems to shroud Arsenal; this abundance of negativity surrounding the club which is ultimately their drug and tormentor. Still, it needs addressing if it is to be fixed. Or, has the talk of mental frailties become so common that it is now a serious disease flowing through the blood of the team on a permanent basis? Has it got to the point of no return?
No matter how it might not appear so or feel, Arsenal have made improvements on the past few empty season by being in the title chase with a handful of games to play. Before, even this was hard pushed. So it’s not to say then that Arsenal have reached the point of no return, yet if they are to reach the dizzy height of unbeaten seasons and league and cup doubles then perhaps learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour is a good foundation.
As soon as the players and coaching staff leave behind this unconstructive stance on things might the fans and everyone else follow suit. I could single out Lukas Fabianski’s error or Wenger’s uninspired substitutions against Wigan, but I’m attempting right here and now to drop the tools of my drug and begin getting over this brain-numbing addiction of viewing Arsenal as lost souls.
The footballing matters such as money to spend and who will come in and out of the team this summer should take care of themselves. Perhaps it will start the end of Arsenal’s rut when a more determined and positive group of players flood The Emirates, ones who say less for the papers but more for their team on the pitch. Do take everything into consideration but sort out the approach on infatuation and Arsenal should have a solid base.
Overall it is what has been the driving force for Manchester United and Chelsea, to believe they are the best and to move around the country with that almost arrogant carriage, even in the face of adversity. It’s in keeping with Randy Marsh who overcame his addiction by realising that when he wasn’t drinking it was because of himself and not some higher power. So I put it to Arsenal to do the same, and become a more conceited, confident and haughty football club.