A septentrional visit to the Abu Dhabi Vulgarians this week and their spacious and extremely safe stadium. Spacious, in that the gap between the stands and pitch is even greater than that of The Emirates at 75 yards, and safe, because the number of stewards outnumbers those of actual home supporters by 3 to 1.
If you are a glass half full person, you could point at heartening recent statistics, such as Manchester City only winning two of their last ten matches against us. We were the last team to beat City in a competitive game, the FA Cup semi-final back in April. However, if you are a pessimist – and I detect from the online twatling that most of us now are – our 2-0 win at City in January 2015 remains our only away top flight victory against the ‘Big Six’ since that start of the 2014/15 season, and that The Vulgarians have won all ten of the games in which they have taken the lead this season, all of which indicated that we were going to be on the end of a severe and painful twonking. I have to say I fell very firmly in the latter camp.
Arsenal offer such a limited forward threat at the moment, and in what could charitably be described as an eccentric move, Mr. Lakeshead, our most potent striker, was left pulling splinters out of his arse on the bench. Those of us who have in the past greatly admired Mr. Windsor and his tactics generally then fall back on the notion that these novaturient decisions must be for the best, that he somehow knows what he is doing.
In the superb recent talkie ‘89’, Mr. Graham switches from the fabled Back IV to a Back III before that fateful game on Merseyside. The players thought he had gone quite mad. “Great,” said Monsieur Dicsonne, our right back of the time. “The biggest game of our lives and the boss has completely lost it.” It is not too much of stretch to imagine such thoughts before every Arsenal match these days. Windsor has taken team selection into the realm of a provocative art form. Wilfully contrarian, excessively experimental, his excogigations become increasingly fascinating, in a morbid way.
Have you ever observed somebody leaving a hostelry in a state of extreme relaxation and attempt to negotiate their way to a Hackney Carriage? Difficult to tear one’s peepers away, is it not? Will they ram into that bollard? Will the window of the Estate Agents give way? Have they seen that broken kerbstone? Are they really going to micturate on that charity collection box? That is what watching Arsenal is like at the moment. Watching a drunkard stagger down a street. Sometimes they may reach their intended destination. Sometimes they will pick a fight with a statue.
We started reasonably well. Mr. Guardiola must have regarded these early exchanges with a sentiment similar to a cat toying with a mouse before the coup de grace is delivered. Mr. Webbley might have found the net from the edge of the box, but the little blonde irritant put Stockport’s finest ahead in what is becoming a classic Arsenal way – giving the ball away twice in the build up and giving the attacker a second chance to ensure he scores his goal.
Also in the aforementioned 89 documentary, Mr. Merson recalls giggling to himself at the suggest from Mr. Graham that he might run a bit faster, an offence for which he was benched for six weeks. It is not difficult to speculate on the punishments that would be meted out for our current defensive ineptitude. A ducking stool would have been installed at London Colney by now, along with thumbscrews and a rack.
Mr. Raheem Sterling dived like a swan to win a penalty for 2-0. So obviously a dive that when Mr. Windsor called it a dive in his post match comments there was no censure from the Football Association who clearly also recognised that it was a dive. But let us all be as clear as an FL diamond on this one; we had lost the game before Sterling’s disgrace. We lost this game months ago. We lost it long before Mr. Lakeshead was finally brought on. We lost it years before their third, offside goal.
After the International Yawn, we have to obarmate ourselves for the upcoming battle against Quite Good Hotspur. How we look forward to that. An away match up against frightful boors Cologne looks tricksy at this point, as does a game against bloody Burnley.
If you need succour in these difficult times then please do watch the film ‘89’. It is a tear- inducing marvel and should not only be compulsory for every Arsenal fan, it should be mandatory viewing, once per week, for our current squad.