By Tony Attwood
The Telegraph is currently running a “Fan happiness index” via which they ask “Which Premier League club has given its supporters reason to cheer, or be sad?”
It’s all invention of course – the bloke behind me in the east upper will be Very Very Angry every time Theo doesn’t put in a perfect pass or Alexis fails to score. But the Telegraph had space to fill and so they invented their chart and it puts Arsenal supporters as the third happiest bunch in the league.
For reasons that will not become apparent at this time the table runs backwards with misery at the top. It goes thus…
- 20. Sunderland (-10)
- 19. Manchester Jose (-7.5)
- 18. Swansea (-7)
- 17. State Aid United (-7)
- 16. Stoke (-7)
- 15. Hull (-3)
- 14. Middlesbrough (0)
- 13. Crystal Palace (+1)
- 12. West Brom (+1.5)
- 11. Burnley (+2)
- 10. Watford Wrongbank (+3.5)
- 9. Bournemouth (+4.5)
- 8. Leicester (+4.5)
- 7. The Kings Road Soviet (+5)
- 6. Southampton (+5.5)
- 5. Everton (+5.5)
- 4. Manchester Airport (+5.5)
- 3. Arsenal (+7)
- 2. Tiny Totts (+8)
- 1. Liverpool! (+10)
Of course there is no science to all this – the notion of introducing 0.5 of a point in the scale is just for effect. It is all made up down the pub, but even so I thought you might like to know what they say about Arsenal
Of course it would be a top-four finish. Things are going very well and there’s a ‘win every week’ expectation surrounding the Gunners again. November is approaching, however, and there are still question marks over the futures of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and indeed Arsene Wenger, but the squad depth suggests the Gunners have a better title chance than in the past few years.
Reasons for unhappiness: Ozil/Sanchez contracts, November’s upcoming arrival, Xhaka’s red card habit.
Reasons for optimism: Joint top, second in the form table, looking irresistible at times up front, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain revived. Genuine title chance.
The unhappiness reasons seem a bit dopey to me – it is very unlikely that Ozil and Sanchez won’t sign, and we knew about Granit’s cards before we started.
But I would like, if I may, to spell out a different reason for optimism.
- 5 March: Tottenham 2 Arsenal 2
- 19 March: Everton 0 Arsenal 2
- 2 April: Arsenal 4 Watford 0
- 9 April: State Aid 3 Arsenal 3
- 17 April: Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 1
- 21 April: Arsenal 2 WBA 0
- 24 April: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 0
- 30 April: Arsenal 1 Norwich 0
- 8 May: Manchester Airport 2 Arsenal 2
- 15 May: Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0
- 14 August: Arsenal 3 Liverpool! 4
- 20 August: Leicester 0 Arsenal 0
- 27 August: Watford Wrongbank 1 Arsenal 3
- 10 September: Arsenal 2 Southampton 1
- 17 September: Hull 1 Arsenal 4
- 24 September: Arsenal 3 The Kings Road Soviet 0
- 2 October: Burnley 0 Arsenal 1
- 15 October: Arsenal 3 Swansea 2
- 22 October: Arsenal 0 Middlesbrough 0
Now I have read the comment by one correspondent in the media that “there was near-mutiny at the Emirates” at the Liverpool! game. That along with the notion that Arsenal were the only team not to be able to get players fit after the Euros, Mr Wenger doesn’t do defence…. oh yes and State Aid have just completed “the most successful stadium migration in history.”
As subsequent events have shown, none of this was true. But because in the world of football pontification, it is never possible to admit you are wrong explanations have to be found which suggest that out of the ramshackle opening Arsenal stumbled by pure chance and outrageous good fortune into a way of winning games.
After all, following the game with Liverpool! (and how the media loved to imply that exclamation mark every time they mention that club, even after a dire goalless draw), Arsenal have lost none. It can’t be down to Wenger, so what is it?
The answer, according to the nay sayers and negativists is luck and pure chance. Luck because we don’t have injuries (but look they are starting to return, with
So the story is that circumstance has pushed the inept Mr Wenger into making the right decisions. (Although if such correspondents knew their TS Eliot they would undoubtedly suggest that these right decisions had all been made for the wrong reason).
For example, the claim is now emerging that it is only because Olivier Giroud has not been fit since the Euros that Alexis Sanchez has become a centre forward. It is only because Barcelona invented the notion of the “false nine” that Arsenal have now slavishly followed the new idea.
The fact that through his time with Arsenal, Alexis has actually been scoring at the same rate as Thierry Henry and has been prepared for this move is carefully ignored.
And because of this chance move (forced on Wenger by the abject lack of players for the opening game, because of Wenger’s inability to sign even a dim witted toad that has hopped out of the pond by mistake on a rainy day), Theo has started to score goals.
The notion that Theo went off the boil because of his injuries, and the way he was mucked about by England, is not considered. Mr Wenger always said Theo could score more – the only issue was whether he would score more by playing number nine and staying in the middle, or by doing an Henry and staying on the wing before turning up in the middle to score.
In fact what is certainly not considered is having Alexis who wanders between centre forward, number 10 and the left wing, and Theo who wanders between the right wing and centre forward, is utterly bemusing to your average central defender who doesn’t know where to look.
But that is still not all.
Mesut Ozil is playing well, and playing in various positions in each match – centre forward, false 9, right wing, number 10… you name it, he’s doing it. I saw him called a “roaming playmaker” this week, and although this is right, it is not all of it.
And all this before we consider that Theo Walcott has scored eight goals in 10 matches. Or before we think about the centre back no one tipped us to sign, or the young centre back who was derided because he only cost £2m. Or before we remember that Iwobi can only get better.
There is a philosophy of living which has at its centre the notion that “it is not the world, it’s how you see the world.” In other words, two people can look at the same situation and one can be happy and the other miserable. The situation is identical – it is their mindset that changes.
These days my mindset is not doing to bad. And Arsenal are only making it better.
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