by Tony Attwood
Jack’s pass to Alexis last night was a moment to behold; a moment of sublime football which can be viewed over and over again (at least by me, even if by no one else); an utter delight. To my mind (and of course it is just my view) it is the sort of moment to savour and enjoy, and if you have a recording of the match, you too might care to go back and watch a few times.
Indeed the sort of moment in football to remember, rather like that amazing quick pass-pass-pass goal that Jack was involved in at the Clock End, before his injury and time in Bournemouth; the sort of thing on this occasion one might take away from a cold night and relive while wondering how delightful life could be if Wilshere and Ramsey can be fitted into the side together.
And it did get savoured on TV, and mentioned a bit in the newspapers and on the websites – but not that much of a mention, because these days, exquisite passes and beautifully executed goals are not what the football reporting of Arsenal is all about. Indeed Arsenal, in the eyes of the media, is not a football team Which is one reason why it seems to me worthwhile endlessly running a blog.
Walter, writing a commentary on the game as it progresses and without time to ponder and contemplate as the professional journalists do, wrote “Wilshere with an amazing ball to Alexis who controls it on his thigh and pushes it next to the keeper. GOAL!!! 1-3 To The Arsenal after 66 minutes.” That’s a perfect description, perfectly written on the spur (if you’ll excuse the word) of the moment.
But the Guardian felt the need to move away from that lovely piece of football quickly to tell us “The problem is observers will continue to scrutinise the body language…” which at least is honest, that is what the journalists and bloggettas do. They could have added that body language is the least reliable way of all to understand a person’s motivations, not least because it is so individual. Yet people make a living out of pretending they can interpret body language, while ignoring any opportunity to ask the individual involved what he/she was thinking at that moment. Fortune telling in the fairground can be more reliable.
For the Independent this morning however the main issue is “Wenger’s tactical indecision a concern,” and here they have moved on from body language to telepathy.
In the build-up to the match Arsene Wenger said he was ready to return to a more ‘attacking’ back-four, yet proceeded to start the game with three defenders and two wing-backs. It is not as though he has a reputation to uphold as a tactical maestro in modern management, but Wenger’s indecision and inability to clearly explain his tactical choices is a worrying trend.
And this is the newspaper journalists’ problem – they can’t admit that some managers (and Mr Wenger is one such) wind them and the opposition up. He gave them the reality at the start of the season – that the club would keep practising 4-3-3 and would occasionally go back to that. Indeed he even said in a recent interview that he preferred 4-3-3 but that three at the back sometimes was necessary.
To the journos, deeply trained with rewards of alcohol to follow the party line, this is “dithering”. To anyone with five seconds to think about it, this is keeping the opposition off balance – getting them to prepare for one line up and playing another. Clubs do it by suddenly dropping one player unexpectedly, and by changing positions. Now Arsenal are doing it by changing the format too.
Clubs exchange team sheets one hour before kick off, by which time it is too late for either team to change to accommodate the other. Palace I suspect expected 4-3-3 and got five across the back, and it caused them to reshuffle uncomfortably.
Trying to find another downer on the whole affair the Telegraph led with “Debate over Sanchez celebration takes shine off Wenger’s milestone” which of course it didn’t for those of us who were happy to celebrate Arsenal’s lead. Only a minority of fans would have bothered with that “debate” (although actually “debate” is stretching the dictionary definition of the word, but it was ever thus in football journalism).
But in case we didn’t get it, the Telegraph gave us another: “Alexis Sanchez goal celebration proves ‘divided dressing room’ at Arsenal, says Graeme Souness”. Sky seem to like to ignore that Souness was named as the worst football manager of all time in the Observer in May 2008. He was criticised in the Stevens enquiry in 2007 into football corruption, he did win the Scottish title with Rangers three times (but I suspect my cat could have done that) and since then he has won the FA Cup (an achievement certainly), the Turkish Cup, and the League Cup. And here he is pontificating over the team of a man who has won the FA Cup more than any other many in the 4.6 billion year history of the planet.
Of course the little bloggettas go for negativity too. One for example runs with runs with “‘Rubbish, Not good enough’ – Fans are bashing this Arsenal star after Palace game.” They are speaking of Bellerin but I am not sure why because a little while ago they told us that he had transferred to Barcelona and bought a house for his family in Spain and that Mr Wenger was a dolt for letting him go.
So it goes.
- Crystal Palace – Arsenal : 2-3
- Norris at the Arsenal – March 1919: The vote to extend the league and what the media said
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption