Usually, after a defeat like the one we experienced against United, and one in which the main talking point wasn’t the football itself, there’s a tendency for the club to go into lock-down mode.
Not this time though. We’ve got a reaction from various players to what’s gone on, not least of which is Robin van Persie’s exclusive in The Sun (why there and not the official site?!), in which he sets the record straight about his reaction to the substitution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He denies any falling out with Arsene Wenger, saying:
I was not having a go at the boss on Sunday — I was just sad to see Alex leave the pitch as he just gave the assist for our only goal.
I was not questioning his judgment. I know it’s not my place to challenge what Arsene Wenger does. When Arsene makes a decision, it is based on a lot of information that everyone else might not know about.
There is no problem, there is no conflict and there is no controversy. The boss knows that, I know that, the players all know that.
The world we live in demands controversy, because controversy sells papers, creates clicks and page views and everything else, and such is the speed at which information is taken in, digested, then plopped out to make space for something new that you can, quite literally, write any old crap without having to back it up. There are so many people hungry for news that there are always enough people to believe, thus giving vague credibility to, stuff which is absolute fiction.
The old saying about if you throw enough shit some of it will stick is never more accurate. And the people with the shit on their faces don’t seem to mind too much because it’s not actually real shit. For example – the story that that Robin van Persie handed in a transfer request after the game – nonsense. And bollocks. And nonsensey bollocks. And bollocky nonsense. With a big curly turd sprinkled with hundreds and thousands on top.
It’s not helped when reaction to the game, visceral and all as it was, is driven by the media. It’d be a very interesting experiment to have two groups of people. One who view a game with no Sky/ESPN soundtrack, no pundits pre and post game, and the other saturated by post-match interviews, ‘insight’ and the rest, then ask them questions on how they perceived what they saw. I’m pretty sure there’d be huge differences in the responses.
I mean, isn’t there enough to talk about and discuss from Sunday without having the agenda set by others? Do we really need Gary Neville to speak on behalf of Arsenal fans and validate thoughts many people have already? People talk about him being a good pundit but his stuff about Arshavin, who I fully accept is not doing it for us, not liking ‘our women’ is just mindless beyond belief. Yet folk are happy to pick up that stick and whack the Russian with it as if we don’t have enough sticks of our own. And we have sticks of validity and righteousness, not of great twattishness.
Anyway, Robin’s response is just what you would expect from him. It’s timely, it says all the right things and to be honest I never saw that much wrong with his reaction in the first place. Again the idea that ‘Oh, an open show of dissent from the captain, that’s not good’ is just more fuel for the fire. If the fans in the stadium can react because they didn’t want Oxlade-Chamberlain to come off, why not a player who is directly affected by that change?
It doesn’t mean he hates the manager, it doesn’t mean he hates the club, it doesn’t mean he wants to leave, it doesn’t mean he’s going to gather up all his toys then put them in his pram simply so they he can throw them out in a gesture of grand defiance, it just means he’s a player who is a) in tune with the fans and b) one who is driven to win games. He knew that The Ox’s removal – whatever the reason behind it – made that more difficult. Whether he’s the captain or anyone else is irrelevant in my opinion. This is a classic mountain/molehill territory and does little but obscure the more pressing issues far more worthy of discussion.
And for me the obvious question is: what the fuck are we going to do to get ourselves out of this run of form we’re in? According to Robin van Persie:
We are all committed to doing the very best we can to bring success to The Emirates. We are not giving up on a top-four finish, no way. We have the FA Cup to look forward to and the Champions League. We will all be giving 100 per cent to make sure we bring one of those trophies home, hopefully both of them.
Let’s all stick together and fight.
I am confident that we will pick ourselves up, will win games and get our position in the Champions League. We’ve been there before and we have reacted very well. I think we’ll do the same thing again and make sure that this club goes in the right direction to finish the season where we should.
And whatever you think about our ability to do that, or the squad’s shortcomings, at least we’re going at it with the right attitude. The reality is there is a lot of football left this season, there is time to turn things around, and there is no choice but to keep going and try and get ourselves back on track. We’ll be aided by the return of some injured players, hopefully sooner rather than later, and it remains to be seen whether or not recent form and our squad deficiencies will spark some transfer activity.
It’s impossible to look at where we are at the moment and not think we need some kind of a lift. Of all the players out only Wilshere and Sagna would really provide that. Get Gibbs and Diaby back and people’s immediate reaction is to open up a book on how long they’ll last before they get crocked again, so maybe the manager and those up above might be more inclined to do some business in January. I wouldn’t hold my breath but I would cross my fingers and hope though.
Finally for today, Leopold has been busy over on the real ANR. Lo! Behold the future – his soothsaying skills and scrolls of wisdom chart Arsenal’s past and what’s to come. Go read and follow Leopold on Twitter.
And that’s yer lot. Till tomorrow.