Greetings gentle denizens of Gooneristhan, my last few posts have been a little sporadic and you’ll have to forgive me for that. But I recommend that the blame and the baleful gazes be directed to the evil alien overlords from Omicron Persei 8 I am employed by; the drastic increase in world load over the past week left with little time to waddle around, enjoy the breeze or write anything of meaning. Now that I have miraculously managed to wade through that giant pile of presentations and reports, once again my time is my own and here I am. I’ll start of with the “big” match that looms ahead of us: Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. It is a FA cup fixture as my mates keep reminding me repeatedly. (It just doesn’t seem to stick, dunno why. I just keep thinking it’s a PL game)
I’m certain that hacks the world over have wasted no time in labelling it as a “must-win” a “six-pointer” (FA cup, D’oh!), “whopper”, “biggie” and every other ridiculous cliché that can be found in the ‘Sports journalist’s handbook’. I shall continue in the vein by stating the painfully obvious (and obviously painful): A loss at Wales would mean termination from the FA cup and the inevitable continuation of the “drought” (famine, plague, whatever) as I‘m not very optimistic about our chances in the Premier league and the Champions League (I hear the guffaws!).
Our last encounter against Laudrup’s boys was far from eventful; Michu humbled us at home with two goals deep in the second half. That was another match I dumped onto that increasingly larger pile marked: “Unpleasant Arsenal memories” in the furthest recess of my mind. In spite of that, Michu’s audacious little chip over Scz keeps replaying in my mind’s eye like some .GIF file seared into my brain. Over and over and over again.
The team that people are starting to call ‘Arsenal-lite’ much to my annoyance are having a quite a decent run in the premier league. While I have immense respect for the way that the club is run, their adherence to their philosophy (It’s basically just Arsene’s with a few frills) and their meteoric rise from the lower tiers of English football, they are light-years away from being Arsenal or even close. That being said, I do envy one thing about the team: Their fresh faced approach to football, the enthusiasm that the team display on the pitch and the eagerness to win is in stark contrast to the attitude displayed by most of the chaps clad in the red and white. We tend to vacillate between inspired brilliance to insipid twaddle in a matter of days, the last two games represent as much. The game against the Saints was a maddening mix of hilarity and frustration, the players walked out expecting the opposition to roll over but when faced with an unyielding bunch, they crumbled instead. The midfield pretty much fell apart and the ball was merely passed onto the flanks repeatedly to be crossed into the box where a midget of a striker waltzed around, staring hopelessly at a ball sailing a foot or two over his head to be hammered outward by a defender. This seemed to be our ONLY mantra:
Pass to RW – cross – miss the header – Saint’s ball – steal – repeat.
To put our recent methods in perspective, here’s a quote that is oft attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
Sagna was then verbally spanked like a giant scapegoat shaped piñata for his performance (which was painfully average but not as poor as made out). I’m not certain but I wonder if fans expected him to run past two defenders, pull an elastico on the third, nutmeg the goalkeeper and score?
After the midfield was overrun, not a single player bothered to even put up a fight or attempt an unorthodox shot or a cheeky pass. In the face of a resolute opposition; they imploded on themselves like an ill-constructed burrito, too dank, damp and miserable to be a tasty snack. You’ll have to excuse my allusions to the snacks and waffles; the food I’ve been subjected over the past few weeks has been rather Chamakh-like, hence the constant craving for anything a little sumptuous has found its way into my blogging.
Swansea will looking to win this early and seal the move to the next round with minimal fuss, but I highly doubt that they’ll be employing any new tactics. Michu leads the line as a deep lying striker/forward playing Attacking Mid, which is their standard form for any game against a ‘top-6’ team is to be expected. Midfield dominance should be no challenge for Santi and the boys but I wouldn’t expect a plethora of meaningful chances to reach a striker (if current form is anything to go by). Laudrup doesn’t possess any midfield monsters to be unleashed upon us to really disrupt our flow of passes too much but their defence will look to repeat their feat at the Grove and cut off our strikers from the ‘feed’. Their tirelessness at pushing and prodding our midfield too is something they will be looking to repeat. Teams have come to realize that the key to Arsenal is rhythm, in the absence of which we possess no alternative. The Newcastle game was an anomaly but the Swans possess a more resolute defence that wont be bullied easily. Speaking of bullying, our German forwards vanishing act continues, he sandwiches superb performances with games where he looks almost miffed at being picked to play. Wonder why that is… It is a point worth pondering.
This fixture is more than a league game, it is not a mere three points, defeat will extirpate our only realistic shot at a trophy and that won’t sit well with the gooners. At all.
Throw Theo’s little contract issue into the mix and now you have a cesspool of conflicted emotions, with fans screaming for the boss to offer him the giant pile of cash that he barely-deserves. Like most of the fans I too got a little carried away after a few spectacular performances, but then I realized that these hat-tricks and flurry of assists shouldn’t blind us to his deficiencies which were in stark highlight during our last game. It was also astutely pointed out by wiser followers of the beautiful game that players often up their performances towards the end of their contracts in the hope of an enormous pay-day.
I wish he stays (on the wing), but only at the price Wenger feels is right, not at some inflated package just because he wants an extra Phantom to chauffeur his Poodle or likes to fill his swimming pool with caviar. But if he does leave, the effect on morale would be devastating and the fallout would be impossible to predict.
Why do I keep coming back to the Theo situation? Every time I sit down to write, I promise myself that I won’t mention him but I’m invariably drawn to it like a dope-fiend to an opiate. Sign da damn ting Wally, so I can stop wasting space here!
In spite of the miasma of negativity and the low morale, I harbour this irrational belief that victory will NOT ELUDE us on Sunday. Most pundits would label our chances as ‘bleak’ but some annoyingly stubborn portion of my brain refuses to kowtow to silly things such as logic and rationality. WE WILL WIN!!!..just don’t ask me how. With those thoughts in mind I predict an absolute obliteration of the Swans with double hat-trick from Oli G and Kos while Gibbs and Santi bagging a couple as well while a forlorn Michu watches on in envy.
I know I really didn’t answer the question that I posed in the title, but that’s what we are going to find out on Sunday. Have a great weekend and let’s hope Wenger’s boys’ help you welcome Monday with a grin on your faces. I say “you” and “your” cause I’ll be grinning either way as I’m off on a trip with a few old pals from school. Later gooners.
Shower me in praises or praises or expletives in the comments section below, or if that just isnt your style find me on twitter @varunchand_