Out of My Arse: Beaten But Not Broken

A complete and utter shambles is a way of describing what happened against Chelsea. We played for 90 minutes, and the most exciting bit for us was when the referee sent off the wrong player. We all know the reason why and it’s absolutely silly nothing has been done to reprimand the referee (or at least his linesman who confirmed the handball was Gibbs’s), but that would distract from the rest of what happened.

I’ve seen a lot of people singling out this or that player, or Arsene getting the tactics wrong, or God for allowing terrible things to happen to good people. Truth is, everyone was to blame. It was a poor performance from the players, and tactically we were outmatched. If you’re going to single out the main point of weakness, then it was in the midfield, where the casual giving away of the ball from everyone in there cost us dearly. Maybe it was a lack of focus on the day, but the loss was definitely more defined by how terrible we were than how good Chelsea are. Obviously. I mean we handled the best team in Europe better than we did them.

Kieran Gibbs is sent off by Andre Marriner in the Chelsea v Arsenal match

But here’s where my thinking diverges from the masses. A lot of previously positive people have used this result as a catalyst for turning on Wenger, saying that when we’ve faced the top teams this season, we haven’t been up for it and been smashed. While we have suffered three devastating scorelines, one very important thing to note is that these are just three games. The pattern isn’t even as evident as some would have us believe. We beat Liverpool in two of the three encounters with them this season, Spurs never even scored a goal against us, we embarrassed a very good Everton side in the FA Cup, we dealt with Dortmund before injuries ravaged their own season (so if Klopp can’t handle an injury crisis at BVB, what makes you think he’s more equipped to handle one than Arsene?), and of course we blew Napoli away when we first faced them. This is the narrative of a season: some you win, some you lose, some were born to sing the blues.

Anyway, back to my main point: yes the result is humiliating, I have a headache, and my week has been ruined before it’s even started, but it is just one result. We are only seven points behind, with a game in hand. And given that our best performances versus the top sides this season have generally come at home, facing City next week is not as daunting as it would be if we were going to their house. Not only that, but of the eight games remaining, five of them are home fixtures. Honestly, the team I’m most worried about facing is Everton at Goodison Park.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are mired in the Champions League, have to face Liverpool away, and have difficulty with some of the smaller sides. Manchester City is still a very good side, but they are no longer steaming forward like a great freight train. The team that will be up at the top up ’til the very end is the Liverpuldian one. They look unbreakable at the moment. That said, we’re only three points behind them and there’s eight games left to go. Eight. That’s still 24 points up for grabs. I doubt we’ll get all 24 of them, but even if we manage 20, we will be up there near the top. The season is not over.

And imagine (I know it’s hard at this moment) if we beat City next weekend. All of a sudden people will give us a chance again.

In summation: the result was shit. Everything about the game was shit, but the season is NOT over. We’re in the FA Cup and we are still in the mix for the title (anyone who says otherwise needs to go back to primary school and re-take basic mathematics). It’s easy to get carried away after a result like we just experienced, but don’t just yet. To employ an overused cliche – we may have lost the battle, but not the war. Fight on you Gunners.

But hey, if you think it’s all over, we’re getting relegated next season, and Arsene is a figure akin to the Antichrist, please remember: I’m just (very sadly right now) pulling this stuff out of my Arse.

The Transfer Window Ruins Fans


For a lot of people, the transfer windows are exciting times. Whether your team are challenging for the title or struggling to avoid relegation, a shiny, new player can quickly turn the tide of fan opinion. Results? Not usually. One need only look at QPR last season, or Tottenham during this one, to see that buying players very rarely comes off as a huge lift for a club in terms of the final achievement at the end of the season. For every Robin van Persie move that wins a title, there are a hundred Roberto Soldados, Andy Carrolls, or Demba Bas.

Now I want to make it clear: I am not slagging of transfers here. Teams have to change personnel in order to keep thing fresh or improve in key areas. However, I think the average fan places far too much importance not only on the transfers that do happen, but also the transfer rumours spread around various tabloids that never actually come to fruition. Six months ago, large groups of Arsenal fans were in uproar at the apparent “dithering” of Arsene Wenger, as he appeared to be unwilling to spend money on players like Higuain and Jovetic, who the press had linked with moves to North London. The atmosphere created by this summer of “dithering” was toxic at the Emirates on the opening day of the season, and this negative attitude well and truly exploded when that opening day ended in a loss. After said match, the Gunners went on a hot streak, as they ensured their Champions League place and navigated some tricky away fixtures. Despite this, it was only upon the signing of Mesut Ozil that many fans’ attitude changed from one of utter depression to one of optimistic jubilation. When did transfer dealings become more important to fans than bona fide results? Though Ozil has been a steady success, other big money moves (ie. Fernando Torres, Samir Nasri) have caused a lot of fan excitement without ever paying consistent dividends on the pitch. It seems the transfer window these days is more about public perception than it is about actually improving a team.

Fast-forward to the present and my how things have changed: Manchester United, the club who a few months ago were crowned champions of the Premier League, are now in “crisis”. Their fans on Twitter are complaining about David Moyes’s “dithering”; about how he should just cough up 50 million pounds for Mata, a player who is perhaps not suited to the fill the current hole in United’s squad. Should they sign him, I am sure there will be a morale boost at the club and among the fans, but perhaps a less inspiring, but more necessary signing is the most efficient answer when it comes to finishing in the top four at the end of the season. United don’t need another number 10, they needs someone who can create from deep in midfield while shielding the defence. Someone in the vein of Yohann Cabaye. If he were signed, I am sure that many a United fan would complain about “settling”, just as Arsenal fans complained about the same when Flamini was signed on a bosman, but the fact is, Flamini, though far less of a PR signing than Ozil, has been a tremendous influence on the Gunners’ campaign thus far.

Fans often complain about the inaccuracy of the transfer reports and rumours that are published across the newspapers and the web, but they then put stock in said rumours as if they were the truth. They get excited about transfers which were probably never likely to happen in the first place, and are disappointed when a lesser known quantity ends up joining their team instead. They even place more importance on these usually erroneous transfer reports than they do on the results of the team they claim to support.

A culture of instant gratification and armchair managers has risen among the football faithful, and it has turned them from being “the faithful” to being the fickle. If a manager needs to buy a player or players, he probably knows it long before a fan ever does, and he probably knows much better than any fan what player would best fit the role that is required. Transfer discussion is fun – we can all sit around and talk with some hope about the direction our teams are heading in – but to allow transfer news and rumours affect the way you support your club is absolutely asinine and it is contradictory to the very definition of the word “supporter”.

A “support” literally keeps things in place, ensuring they do not crumble or fall under pressure. In the case of football fandom, supporters are meant to support their team’s morale. If the media pile pressure on your team because of who you have bought or have not bought, as a supporter, you should be making sure that your players’ morale does not cave under that pressure. You should not be adding to it by creating negative social media campaigns or slagging off the team at the home ground. You are meant to make sure that when your team steps out onto that pitch, they are thinking of the job at hand and the wonderful people cheering them on, not the negative pressure that the media thrive on publishing (because, guess what? Negativity sells far better than positivity).

If you let transfer dealings affect your love for your football club of choice, then you’re not a fan of football. You may as well be a cardboard cut out of a person with a microphone attached that spews out the latest media features about your club: the fickle features which are one day glowing, and depressing the next.

Let the media be fickle. You are a supporter. Act like it.

Out of My Arse: The Wilshere Conundrum

out of my arse - wilshere

No, this is not the title to Dan Brown’s next Robert Langdon suspense novel, but the questions being posed within are just as puzzling.

Of late, it seems that our very own Jack Wilshere has well and truly recovered from the injury and successive surgeries that have affected him for well over two seasons.

What’s baffling is that his most influential performance of the season so far came against Marseille: you know, the match where he played as our right winger?

Incisive passing and tenacity in retrieving the ball are nothing new to Jack’s game, but a brace against a Champions League level side is. And as for the givens: didn’t his passing seem that little bit more incisive? His pressing even more tenacious?

Last year, Arsene Wenger made a comment about Jack after his winner against Swansea in the FA Cup. He said that Wilshere was a complete midfielder who could play anywhere, but the closer to goal, the better. A few days ago, he said Wilshere’s best role was as a deep-lying midfielder (this before the Marseille game).

To me it seems that, much like Roy Hodgson and my plethora of Arsenal FIFA Career Modes, Wenger has very little idea which position best suits Jack.

Continue reading

Head to Head: The 2013 Transfer Window

HEAD TO HEAD transfer judgement day!

After a hectic transfer window and a tight start to the season for all the top teams involved, we were unfortunately all slapped with an international break.

Nightmares of injuries to our top players aside, there was only one thing we at the Spot Kick could possibly have on our minds once the transfer deadline day hangover had worn off. It’s that almighty time in which we pass on judgement and make bold claims and predictions about all the top clubs in the Premier League.


Continue reading