The Enemy

So, into decade two we go, still basking in the warm glow of Sunday’s victory.

It is all silver lining and little or no cloud, but frustratingly the cumulonimbus of a round of midweek internationals approaches. It’s not quite an Interlull because we play again on Saturday but maybe, after a win like we’ve just had, it’d be better to have the lads buzzing on the training ground all week instead of buggering off thither and yon to play games for their countries.

Wenger is already doubting T(h)omas, according to the boss both Vermaelen and Rosicky picked up knocks as they thrashed Sp*rs to within an inch of their lilywhite, 1961, Chas ‘n’ Dave lives. Vermaelen’s ankle problem is a consequence of Scott Parker’s late challenge while Rosicky has a back strain. Fingers crossed they’ll be ok for the trip to Anfield on Saturday, that those who play tomorrow night come through unscathed and we can pick up where we left off.

Wojciech Szczesny says:

The last two games at home we have scored 12 goals. It just shows you what we can do when we are on the front foot and we can really go for it. Hopefully we can learn from that and repeat it all over again.

Unquestionably, it does show what can do, and not only that, how we can do it. The good result is not unfamiliar, it’s making sure that we follow that up with other good results, adding some consistency to our game that is the key. And no doubt by now you’ll have seen Bacary Sagna’s quote about winning on Sunday. Speaking after the game, he said:

We could not let it go like this, this is one of the most important games of the season. In our stadium, against the enemy, we could not lose.

And who could not be heartened by him referring to them as ‘the enemy’. There might well have been some scores to settle after some disappointing North London derby results in recent times. Away this season, being pegged back there last season, their comeback at our place last season, all added to the historical mix which tells you that they indeed are history’s greatest monsters.

But I have a theory about this. For me, history’s greatest monsters are the team you play next. From time to time people accuse me of being too partisan, too Arsenal focused, which is fine. I happily admit it. I am. This is Arseblog, after all. A blog about Arsenal written by an Arsenal fan. I am certainly capable of moments of magnanimity and reason but, frankly, I don’t like it that much because it generally means we’ve done something that’s difficult to defend.

Those rare instances aside however, I’m pretty much an equal opportunities hater. In that I hate whoever we’re playing, I hate their players, I hate their manager, their entire technical team (down as far as youth team kit man), their chairman, their fans, their fans families, their acquaintances, people they work with, those people’s cousins, their pets and even the couple they met on holiday in Magaluf with whom they still exchange Christmas cards. Then, once that game is over, they become more or less irrelevant until the next time we play them and the focus goes on whoever comes next.

This is why it drives me mad when I see our players hugging and high-fiving the opposition in the tunnel before the game. I know it’s different for the players, I get that. They might be old teammates, international colleagues or whatever, but there is a time and a place for backslapping and cuddling, and that’s after the final whistle when we’ve won the game. And even then we get it wrong sometimes.

Look at Alex Song at Newcastle. He stamped on Joey Barton because Joey Barton is an irritating, annoying, wind-up merchant. Barton then got Gervinho sent off, Song got banned for three games because obviously TV cameras picked up what he did, but at the final whistle he was hugging Joey Barton? Unless you have smeared yourself in runny cat shit, what are you thinking? If you’re gonna stamp on a guy, fine, I get why you would do that but I don’t get how the final whistle is then a signal for some light canoodling.

Anyway, the point I’m making, in a very roundabout fashion, is that we have to go to look at every team we play between now and the end of the season as ‘the enemy’. Every team wants to beat us, every team wants to take points off us, to damage our chances of finishing in the top four, and while there might be a bit more historical baggage to some of the rivalries, it shouldn’t make us more up for one game than any other.

Me? I can find a reason to dislike any team, any time, any place, but sometimes you get the sense that the players aren’t as wrapped up in irrational hatred. Maybe its their professionalism and stuff but maybe it’s because they genuinely don’t feel the same way. It’s their job, and so on, but sometimes professional pride doesn’t quite inspire as much as wanting to get one over on some smug fuckers.

The players have spoken about how the win on Sunday was for the fans, which is great, and I know where they’re coming from. Yes, beating Sp*rs is special but it becomes less valuable if you don’t beat Wigan and Stoke too, for example. They need to embrace the dark side, give in to anger and fear [insert sinister breathing sounds here], and look at every opponent as if they were T*ttenham. Then, when games are won, we can be as nice as we like, because they’re no longer important, it’s the next bunch of cunts we have to worry about.

Maybe it’s all a bit simplistic, maybe it’s just the way I think as a fan, but there can be no doubt we have, in the past, approached certain games with less enthusiasm and vigour than we might. With just 12 games left go this season though, there’s not much room for that kind of nonsense. Saturday should provide plenty of motivation, an early season defeat at home to the Mugsmashers needs to be made up for, and if we can’t fire ourselves up for that considering their personnel, then we should give up and play Yahtzee instead.

In other news, our financial results were released yesterday, we’ve got some money, we’re going to spend it, but not all of it because most of it comes from selling players at our weekend Farmer’s Market stall, and you know the drill. Ivan said some stuff, which is probably the same as the stuff from the last time, but at this moment I’m too focused on what’s going on on the pitch to worry too much. I’ll take my lemmingesque lead from Swiss Ramble, I’m not panicking till he does.

Update: And what timing! Here is the man himself with an updated look at Arsenal’s finances.

Right, that’s yer lot for today, till tomorrow.