Things aren’t so bad, if you just pretend …

Hello everyone. I’m back in Ireland and I think I’ve had an ok night’s sleep so hopefully that’s that with the jetlag after 22 hours flying.

*prepares self to feel like crap later and hallucinate and stuff*

Thanks to Andrew for holding the fort yesterday as we spiral into another Interlull. Not just any old Interlull though, because of the defeat to Man City it’s an Interlull of Introspection in which we pore over the last result, the last game, the last performance, and it’s hard to look beyond it.

The question came up as James and I were recording the podcast last night: are we that bad or are City that good? And I think the answer is a little from column A, and a little from column B. Or a fair chunk of column A, and a smattering of column B. Or a soupçon from Column A, and a healthy dollop from column B. It all depends on your perspective.

I mean, if you were to pretend that Man City don’t exist, the league table doesn’t look that bad:

We’re level with the Champions League places and only four points behind the leaders, and with 27 games to go there’s loads of time to make up the gap between us and the top. It hasn’t been the best start to the season but, you know, hopefully we’ve got those bad games out of system, we can regroup and kick on from there, and stay in this title race right until the end.

Stop laughing. I know. We can’t pretend Man City don’t exist, but perhaps we should for the sake of our own sanity. Pretend that lego-haired hunk Mikel Arteta isn’t there learning from one of the best coaches in the world. Pretend that they don’t have a collection of some of the best forward players in the Premier League right now. Pretend that Kyle Walker doesn’t actually look like a footballer who knows what he’s doing now apart from running a lot. Pretend that Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr aren’t enjoying themselves with their guitars and their haircuts.

If we can pretend, if we can perform those mental gymnastics, then it re-frames our league season into something that could be enjoyable. Ok, maybe not enjoyable, but certainly less unenjoyable. I know we’ve all had our issues with the scrap for top four in the past, but while we’re pretending we could imagine that there is actual trophy for doing it and have an open-top bus parade if we get there.

If it sounds like I’m joking, I kind of am, but I’m not really. I think it’s hugely important that these players feel like they’re playing for something in the Premier League this season. They probably now realise that winning the title is not a realistic proposition. That, after just eleven games, is probably quite demoralising.

Yes, they’ve played their part in it, I’m not excusing them in any way, but they’re also playing under a manager who has failed to build a team which can challenge, and that’s not something that can be ignored. What he has built teams capable of though is finishing in the top four. He has done that with a consistency that no other manager has ever done, until last year’s blip which saw us finish a point outside the Champions League places.

That then should become our target between now and May. Don’t look at the gap between us and the top, look at the gap between us and the Champions League places. It’s disheartening, of course, because the club’s stated ambition when they re-signed Arsene Wenger was to win the title. They’ve set the expectations, and they’re falling short. Not unexpectedly either.

However, a slight re-think about what’s realistic, some imagination, and willfully ignoring the existence of one club should make for a slightly more palatable experience. It’s also why the North London derby after the Interlull becomes so, so important. Win it and we’re a point behind them and it will restore some belief and confidence. Lose it and I fear it’d be like pulling the plug on the Arsenal bath and the water will churn down the plughole and things could get a lot worse.

That is a conversation for another day though. We still have the rest of this week and all of next to deal with the contemplation of our very existence, this Interlull of cogitation and navel-gazing. Or naval gazing if you live near somewhere where there are a lot of army ships. Either or.

Right, a couple of quick things. For those of you wondering about the arses and live blog etc, we are making progress, and if testing goes well now that I’m back, we should have those up and running pretty soon. Comments below each article remain open for now.

And as I mentioned above, James and I recorded an Arsecast Extra last night, looking back at the Man City game, the performance, the contentious issues, and what it means for us. We also chat about Sanchez and Ozil, conceding so many penalties, Nabil Fekir, and we reveal and out of the blue name as a possible next manager for us along with lots more waffle and nonsense. Please listen, subscribe and if you fancy giving us a rating/review on iTunes we’d really appreciate that.

News throughout the day on Arseblog News, more from me tomorrow.

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This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL

34 COMMENTS

  1. Many used to pretend Pep was average…

    Idiots.

    But yes.. top 4 is my everything. And thats the way it will be for a long long time.

  2. But just why do we play so badly?
    Our counter attacks are a straight up failure tbh. Players either fail to trap the ball properly or are terrible at placing the ball in a nice spot for teammates to latch onto.
    Now compare that to man shittys defenders playing triangles within themselves to escape the pressing from our attackers.
    Our play has been terrible for awhile now IMO.

    • According to Bobby P it’s because the players need to show more ‘spirit’ and Arsene is still ‘the man’ because he believes in his players.
      According to sane people it’s because the players don’t need to be believed in, they need to be coached by someone who can organise them and improve them as players. Wenger hasn’t done that in years.

    • I think you’re right. If our play was more entertaining to watch, if we tried hard to win and gave it our all in every game, if we scored great team goals or the occasional long range bomb then finishing 4th is not such a bad thing and I’m sure most people could get behind it. But our play is abject and flat and boring, we’re not scoring much, many of the goals against us come from errors. It’s not entertaining to watch a team implode all the time, it’s frustrating and the sense of monotony is uninspiring. Not improving year on year is dull

  3. Welcome back to the top of the world, blogs. Hope you had a good time in Oz. That Jetlag will just sneak up on you this afternoon. I do miss the arses.

    *woowaves*

    *flicks the bird at Hazza*

    • *baffwaves*

      Have got to have a pacemaker, which I can just about countenance but they want want me to have aa defibrillator,too. Which is going a bit far. Hope all well @ Baff Towers.

      • Sorry for the late reply and to hear about your cardiac travails. We’re all good. Inspired and a bit exhausted by our recent travels.

        Modern cardiac devices are very good and can be transformational. You’ll be running up the stairs at the Emirates before you know it! All the best for the procedure.

  4. 4th is realistic. So annoying and as pointed out, the manager has failed to build up a team that can fight for the title. 2 years ago was our chance and Leicester of all clubs, snatched it from under our noses. I reapeat Leicester. Leicester…

    • Yup. Who could forget the season where our rivals were in managerial transition and the PL title was there for the taking, we only signed Petr Cech and NO outfield players for our first team.

  5. Its sad cause we actually haven’t played that badly except for Liverpool. Stoke was a bad result but we dominated the game. The ability to be sucker punched and not recover is painful. We are good enough to finish 2nd or 6th..but somehow we aren’t doing it. We played Citeh the best that any team has played them this season and it still wasn’t enough.

  6. Can we pretend all the other teams don’t exist and that we romp to victory in the league and sweep up in all cup competitions?

  7. Probably for most Arsenal fans the table is not that important in terms of evaluating the team’s performance this year. What they are more interested in is seeing a team that does not repeat the same mistakes from the previous years and gives the fans a bit of belief that it is building towards a future.
    On this criteria this season has been really bad.

  8. City will win the league until this new crop of players get old and they need to spend two years buying 10 new players to build a new title winning team.

    No team will spend like city year in and year out unless another city-state buys another club.

    That’s why jose will go to psg so he can spend unlimited money and not have to settle for players like smalling Jones and Ashley young in defense.

    Arsenal to appease fans will buy one big player every other year and that player will stay until he has offers from a club that pays a bigger salary.

    The good news is that the best spurs players will get tired of not winning and making 80 to 110 per week and will leave, as will the manager once real Madrid fire zidane for not winning champs league every season. When that happens spurs will suck once again and we’ll all feel better about ourselves.

  9. I was certainly hoping the team could be rebuilt more quickly after the stadium was complete, although I realized that we would be at a disadvantage compared to teams that have an open tap of money each and every year. Since “financial fair play” just disappeared, or has been nullified by TV or player inflation, I think a coach who could get enough out of our (significant) talent pool could mount a title challenge. Unfortunately Arsene is not that type of coach. However, the (financial management) brilliance of our current regime, all things considered, has been able to keep us in touch enough to give us hope for the future.

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