You couldn’t make this up; everything that could go wrong for Arsenal went haywire. It was a doomsday prediction come true; losing by 3 goals at home to Villa (our first game of the season in like forever), giving up 2 penalties, 3 injuries, 1 red card and being out played. There we were all our fears manifested before us on the very 1st day of the season. It was a depressing day for the fans, one that was easily avoidable, one that fans of any football club should never be subjected to, even Spurs. It was painfully obvious that we cannot compete for the Premiership this season, that our squad is just an injury away from fielding Academy boys, which any football team with some sort of plan can come to our home and pick 3 points while bullying us along the way. I have no complaints about the referee, we know already that most of them are incompetent and these calls will even themselves over the course of a season, they always do.
I however have a big problem with Agbonlahor weaving his way through our defence as if they didn’t exist twice in one single game to give the ref the reason to award a penalty. I have issues when my team displays the same brittleness of the past 8 years in the 1st game of the 9th year; no defensive midfielder; easily bullied and scared by rough house tactics; squandering chances and most painfully no answer from the bench or on the bench. Aston Villa just aggregated the knowledge learnt from all the teams that have beaten Arsenal over the last 8 years and put it to use. They almost replicated their 2 nil victory of 2008, they had a real go and deserved their good fortune. This will be the template all other teams will use against us this season and at the moment there is nothing to stop it from being a great success.
The main problem is Arsenal or Arsene Wenger since the two are now one and he is the embodiment of the club, calls all the shots and so the buck must stop at his table. He is in fact the one constant all through these barren years and since the same mistakes keep appearing again and again it is legitimate to ask questions about his continued role and absolute powers. This is more pertinent as his criminal refusal to improve this average team of hard working professionals after dispensing of the deadwood has brought us to this new low. This is the 2nd summer in 3 seasons where we have mismanaged our transfer dealings and waited for other teams to disgrace us on the football pitch before using a fire brigade approach to paper over the cracks. Why is it that everybody with very limited football knowledge can see that Arsenal needs reinforcements and Arsene Wenger, the Professor cannot? We are talking basics here, the Defensive Midfield position, the person that screens the back four, the destroyer who can pass, the all-important Makalele role, the new Viera etc has never been addressed since Viera was sold? Song? He was masquerading in that role going AWOL and costing us goals for years. Arteta has done a professional job since he was thrust there last season and his absence yesterday (and for 5 more weeks) was crucial but he is NOT a DM. We have a very core always needing 3 World Class additions to compete but Arsene never sees that. We have not had a competent Goalkeeper since Jens Lehmann. In a World where Stoke pays the wages of Begovic and Ceaser plays for QPR it really makes one mad. This is no knee jerk reaction; it is 8 years of pent up frustration. Our fans pay the highest to watch football; we have been patient for 8 years as every Denilson, Diaby and Song are given a ‘chance’ instead of signing proven quality. We are tired of failure and indeed gross negligence. Last summer’s purchases of Giroud, Podolski and Carloza were fluke signings since the trend did not continue.
Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely according to Chairman Mao. Arsene Wenger has fallen victim to the trappings of the absolute powers he has enjoyed at Arsenal especially since the departure of David Dein, the man that hired him. No one at Arsenal has the balls to call him to order or indeed even advise him it seems. No man should ever enjoy such absolute power over the affairs of a football club and indeed the happiness of millions of people. I am now a big fan of the continental style of a Head Coach and Director of Football. The Head Coach’s job being to train the team and the Director’s job to handle transfers. Arsene’s personal values of frugality and egalitarian view of the world have gradually ebbed away Arsenal’s competitive edge and reduced us to the laughing stock of the football world. In the process, the man has tarnished his reputation from being one of the finest in the game to a rambling old dictator clinging on to power, sailing against the winds of change not unlike Mubarak or Ghaddafi. His post-match press conference yesterday where he said that the reporters should be happy they got what they wanted (Arsenal losing and a crisis) betrayed a siege mentality of ‘me-against-the-world’. This is very sad and unfortunate because as much as I despise the English Press, all they were pointing out all summer and indeed the past 8 seasons were the truth. Now that the chickens are coming home to roost as far as Wenger not being able to put out 11 competitive men, never mind the bench, a humble man would have just eaten the pie and kept quiet. This is all of his own making, his snobbish excuse of ‘not finding someone with quality to improve’ the team i.e. not finding anyone better than Diaby, Jenkinson, Szcesney, Fabianski et al. This is despite having over 150 millon GBP Cash in the Bank in a summer where Napoli has bought 6 World Class players, Spurs 4 and Man City 3. The more he speaks the more one is concerned about his mental health, and this is just me a big admirer of the man. Let’s just face it, ARSENE USED TO KNOW.
Where do we go from here? Turkey to face Fernerbache who no doubt know all about our troubles. The thought of Carl Jenkinson in Istanbul is terrifying. With no Arteta, possibly Sagna, it will be a miracle to get past the Turks. We have Manchester City next week and Spurs on 2nd September. We could be out of the Premier League and the Champions League by then. How this was allowed to happen will forever baffle one. We have 12 days to spend 150mm in a market where we have not been able to find ‘top quality’ in over 3 months, a market that has already been cherry picked for the best, a market aware of our desperation and our riches. I just don’t see how and where we will get ‘top quality’ but there is always a last minute trolley dash. My expectations of the new season have been brought down to zero, my belief in the manager wiped out and my heart fortified for the pain of watching Groundhogs day all over again. This made more painful with the sight of RVP celebrating every weekend, Luiz Suarez scoring with reckless abandon and watching Higuain lead Napoli to glory. These are very painful and trying times to be an Arsenal fan, we deserve better. The supporters must let the club know exactly how they feel at the Stadium. The boos are not targeted at the players but the management. Wenger said yesterday that his job is to make the fans happy, well Monsieur as we say in Nigeria, boys are not smiling. So you better get to work.
Written by Abdul Malik Mahdi