Silence is golden in a world of deafening opinion

As expected, there’s radio silence from Arsenal after Sunday’s disappointment. Post-match comment has been the bare minimum, obligations fulfilled and that’s just about it.

I’m perfectly happy with that. Only the truly masochistic would want to hear from the manager or players about how we’ll respond, bounce back, learn lessons, and so on. It’s stuff that’s said in public because that’s pretty much the only thing they can say. What you would hope is that they take stock behind closed doors, and figure out why it went so wrong.

There’s been mention – on this site too, in fairness – of how we responded to the opening day defeat to Villa. We look for things to provide comfort. This happened before and it was bad, but then we did things and it was less bad. In fact we made it quite good for a long time and obviously that’s the hope, that we can do it again.

It’s not quite ‘night follows day’ though. That was a thing that happened before, but there’s literally nothing that says losing on the opening day will spark a good run of form. It’s not a wake-up call, it’s just a demoralising, deflating defeat and you have to hope that the confidence of the team isn’t damaged too badly.

To be fair, we have shown a decent ability to respond to disappointment. This team can grind out wins when required and that’s the most likely scenario for Sunday’s trip to Crystal Palace. It seems less likely to me that it will all just magically click and we’ll beat them with ease, panache and flair. Essentially we hit the reset button, and go again.

What changes the manager might decide to make for this one is probably a topic for discussion later in the week, but I do wonder if West Ham might be a game from which he takes a few things. Away at Crystal Palace is the perfect game for Francis Coquelin – it’s where he’s needed most, and probably where he’s best. The qualities he brings to the team seem much better suited for this kind of game.

As I mentioned on yesterday’s Arsecast Extra, I wonder if using Mikel Arteta in a home game against West Ham might have been the better choice. Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, because that really was Coquelin’s first duff performance since his first team emergence, but with Ramsey, Ozil and Cazorla struggling to find the right balance, maybe the calm assurance and the more reliable distribution of the captain might have been the better choice on the day.

The other thing to consider is who makes way when Alexis comes back. Will it be one of the aforementioned trio, as the Chilean takes up his place on the left hand side, or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose qualities on the right are obvious but whose defensive flaws did contribute to Sunday’s defeat? Tough call. Anyway, stuff we can consider as the week goes on.

Meanwhile, it’s important now to look at 5 things we learned from Sunday:

1 – These

2 – Articles

3 – Are

4 – Absolutely

5 – Shit

This from Premier League Owl is a fantastic read about ‘football’s big opinions’. I’ve spoken about this before on the site, that less and less there’s nuance and reason to both the stuff that’s being written (and broadcast), and the responses to it.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen replies from people who haven’t read a piece, and comment only on the headline. A question about why Giroud spent so much time on the left gets responses about how Giroud is shit and we need Benzema, which isn’t really that helpful at all. I mean, I can understand people want Benzema, but what if he was the one on the left crossing to nobody? Is the solution to buy an even better striker?!

We deal in absolutes these days. You exist as one thing or another, nothing exists in-between. You’re either this or you’re that. And if you’re not the kind of this somebody else is, then you’re the absolute worst kind of that. It’s almost unthinkable that you might say ‘I don’t know’, as if that makes you a bad person.

To me there’s far more wrong with declarations of opinion as absolute, incontrovertible fact than admitting you’re not quite sure one way or the other. Over the last number of years, I’ve had lots of messages that quite assuredly told me that we would never, ever win anything under Arsene Wenger again, and look, I understand completely why people had doubts. I had them myself. But then we won something, and then won something else the next year.

We draw conclusions from things that should inform and balance our opinions, not drive them right to the extremes where, frankly, people find it difficult to make themselves heard because that’s where the people you never want to deal with exist. That’s true of those overly-positive and overly-negative.

We’re not helped by an Internet culture in which there’s so much noise that being bombastic or orotund is seen as the only way to stand out. The traditional media’s desperate attempts to claim as much space in this new online land as possible, like some kind of digital gold rush, see them lower standards and publish stuff they never would have in print a few years ago.

Five things about this; watch as this person ‘trolls’ those people (even the fact they don’t understand the difference between trolling and a joke gets right on my tits); stories made from social media posts; blatant and deliberate lies published day in, day out and accepted without genuine scorn or challenge; it all produces a cacophony of shite. It’s like having 8 different radios on at the same time, all playing different songs.

It hurts. And unfortunately I don’t see it changing. People will still react to headlines only without even thinking to read the article. Maybe we’ll just have articles made up of headlines. But if you find a place where you can enjoy people who think about what they write, and how they write it, treasure it – because they’re becoming fewer and farther between.

Till tomorrow.


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