We shall not linger upon the Catalonian Unpleasantness. Suffice it to say that there were, if you were slightly narcotised, (and who could blame you if you were, I certainly was) a light sprinkling of positives from the match. Mr. Elleray looks a find; precise, metronomic passing (when we had the ball, which is insufferably seldom) and his goal was quite the arc of delight.
Young Mr. Webbley was a veritable fun palace, as mobile as a lizard and as fearless as a deranged Private who has partaken in a substantial amount of methamphetamine. Even glove butler Mr. Dai Ramsden between the trunks managed a decent save from that garden gnome Messi. Yet the game felt claustrophobically familiar, like a kind of ant-Christmas, an annual festival of pain and ennui. Ultimately, despite the welcome and rare showing of some guts and desire, it was one of the most Arsenal games in recent memory.
To paraphrase the words of long-forgotten politician, with Arsenal, there are known knowns, there are known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns. The known knows are that we will always choke like the Queen Mother on a herringbone, that we shall somehow contrive defeat whatever the calibre of opposition, and we shall fail to convert any number of perfectly suitable gentleman’s favours into actual goals.
The known unknowns are that we do know that at some point the defence will be collectively struck by some electrical imbalance in the brain, allowing the enemy to score, we know that the attack will run out of ideas like a novelist at the end of her career, but we don’t know when (although it is normally in the first half), and we know that at least one of our Defensive Midfielders will slice a pass around 40 degrees off target, but we do not know which one.
The unknown unknowns are how much the opposition laugh at us at half-time, what Numebr12 is staring at in the sky after missing yet another chance, or what the meaning of Theo Walcott is these days.
I was struck recently by the bifurcation of Arsenal’s twitter support. As a student of military history, it seems to me that there are lessons to be learned here from the conflicts of the past. I shall summarise the uncanny similarities between the keyboard battles of our two opposing factions and those of the English Civil War.
The English Civil War was a series of conflicts between Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and Royalists (Cavaliers) over England’s manner of government.
The Cavaliers supported King Charles I, a monarch who was “Self-righteous, arrogant, and unscrupulous… a penchant for making bad decisions.” I leave that description here with no further comment.
The Arsenal Civil War is a series of unarmed keyboard conflicts between the WOBs (Roundheads), the AKBs (Cavaliers) and supporters of Piers Morgan (Dickheads) over Arsenal’s manner of government.
The combatants in the English Civil War used hand-cannons such as the Arquebus, Flintlock pistols, Pikes and Muskets. Combatants in the Arsenal Civil War use the Personal Computer and Keyboard, Mr. Jobs’s patented handheld device, embroidered cloth signs, and Samuel Sung’s Galaxy Machine.
In the English Civil War, the Roundheads wished to establish a Long Parliament and then a Rump Parliament, whilst the Cavaliers, loyal to the King, wished him to retain primacy over elected government.
In the Arsenal Civil War, the Roundheads wish to establish pretty much anyone other than the current manager, whilst the Cavaliers wish the manager to remain the supreme leader, descended from the very gods, and Piers Morgan wants pretty much anyone he’s seen on Sky Sports News that morning to be manager. Is it Gary Megson at the moment? It’s so hard to keep up with the flabby fool.
In the English Civil War, decisive victory came with the Battle of Worcester on 3rd September 1651. In the Arsenal Civil War, the decisive victory would come if the unthinkable happens and St Totteringham’s Day is delayed for 365 days.
In the English Civil War, Charles I was put on trial and then executed. Although this is much hoped for outcome amongst Roundheads in the Arsenal Civil War it is thought that however frustrating a sequence of results can be that execution of a manager is not technically legal.
In the English Civil War, the monarchy was replaced by the Commonwealth of England and then the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell’s rule. In the Arsenal Civil War, the manager and owner are replaced by something much nicer, as yet to be determined.
The main achievements of the English Civil War was that it was established the primacy over Parliament over the Monarch. Whether we wish for certain prominent figures among the Roundheads to have primacy over any new manager is another matter. Half of the buggers cannot spell let alone have any meaningful input at the club.
Ultimately of course, Charles II was restored to the throne eleven years after the execution of his father following The Wars of the Three Kingdoms. So perhaps when our pikestaffs, our Roaring Megs, our Snapchances, our doglocks, our Personal Computers and Keyboards, our Mr. Jobs’s patented handheld device, our embroidered cloth signs, and our Samuel Sung’s Galaxy Machine, and as the Roundhead’s wish, the manager is pushed upstairs rather than beheaded, may we see him or his progeny restored to the throne some years hence?
Whatever the answer, this summer is going to be a fascinating one for Woolwich and our very own King Charles I.