By Tony Attwood
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My general view after games is that with Walter’s coverage of the game pretty much most possible angles of what happened in the match will be covered, so I have, over the past 10 years, tried to find something quite different to write about in relation to what has gone before, once the match is over.
What I am fascinated with is different solutions to the Arsenal “crisis” and yes it is a crisis because we are now back to the days of George Graham to look for a similar bad start, and Terry Neill and Bertie Mee to look for starts that went on and got even worse.
One really interesting approach, and I am not criticising it, but rather just expressing surprise, comes from the Transfer Tavern who have suggested that Cohen Brammall, (who as far as I remember has not played in the warm ups) should now play for the first team as a left back. They also suggest that Emile Smith Rowe should be given a chance in the first XI, although I am not sure who he would replace. Ozil I suspect.
An interesting vision.
But most commentators are worried that most Arsenal fans expect it all to come right in the end – and probably starting with the home game against West Ham next weekend. After that our international players go off once more to be injured or depressed or jet lagged for another round of pointless games. Seems like ages since we had the last round.
I’m not sure who we are playing but it is probably Andorra or Gibralter or the European Union – no sorry that’s Mrs May.
There is of course a lot of chatter about ludicrous things, as the Metro has a headline about who shook whose hand (there’s a real shock horror), and Firstpost calls the start “Ominous” – a word that suggests the whole season is going to be one of failure. Where’s Private Fraser when we need him?
And overall there is not much awareness of history. Yes there was a little belated recognition that George Graham was the last manager to give us two defeats at the start of the season, and even in one or two places the knowledge that he followed that start up with the FA Cup and the League Cup Double – the first time it had ever been done. The media I recall, hated that, and announced that the cups had lost their value.
What they don’t tell us (because the Arsenal History Society didn’t tell them, and journalists don’t have time to look things up, not even on Google) was that in that season of two opening defeats and then two cups at the end, Arsenal scored 40 goals in the league under Graham. The only times we have scored fewer was in 1900-01 with 39 goals, 1909/10 with 37 goals, 1904/5 with 36 goals and 1912/13 with 26. In that final year we were relegated to the second division, and left the Manor Ground for Highbury.
The reason for the paucity of goals then was that in those days (until 1925/6) to be onside the attacker had to have three opposition players in front of him when receiving the ball in the opposition half. No wonder goals were low.
Anyway, at least we are scoring, and indeed we could have had six yesterday had the wind been blowing the other way.
But with the growth of realisation over the last few years that the media does not report football but rather manipulates reality in order to breed trouble, strife and discontent, within the theory that when the fans are angry they will engage more with the media to express their anger, there appears to be some anxiety therein that us fans are not angry enough.
So we are told that Rio Ferdinand reveals what’s wrong with Arsenal (because we, as fans, can’t see it ourselves) in the Express, “Unai Emery criticised for key Arsenal decision” says Sport Review, urging us to see it the same way, “Arsenal had an obvious tactical weakness v Chelsea” says 101 Great Goals and we are morons if we can’t see it. And the Star reports that “Ian Wright slams Alexandre Lacazette” and Wrighty knows stuff, so why are we being so stupid as not to see it?
The fans indeed have lost it. “‘Disgusting’ … These Arsenal fans go to the extreme following another defeat” says
Of course we have had bad starts before, but nothing like this under Mr Wenger, so it takes a bit of remembering. Terry Neill did give us three defeats and a draw in the first four in 1982 (a year we got to both cup semi-finals) and Bertie Mee (who when not winning his three trophies really was fairly awful in what he tried to do to the club) managed in 1974/5 to open with two wins, three draws and eight defeats in the first 13. By September we were playing home matches in front of under 22,000.
The good news is, Mr Emery is no mug and it is about to get a lot better, but as it does, the media are going to give us hell. They’re rather enjoying is – even if it means at the moment they can’t talk about Wenger being even worse.
Remember, George Graham, having the most atrocious season, gave us two Cups. And Mr Emery is the absolute Cup expert. Europa Triple. Winning both French cups year on year. He knows how to do Cups.