Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Be mad at the rules, not Arsenal*

Morning, a quick Sunday blog for you because obviously there is no North London derby to preview.

After Arsenal’s application for a postponement was made on Friday afternoon, the Premier League announced their decision almost 24 hours later. Quite what took them so long is anybody’s guess. Perhaps they’d had a late night at Club Johnson on the Friday, rocking to the sick beats of the Downing Street DJ or something. There was a suggestion that they didn’t want to announce anything while there was another game on, like the fans of Chelsea and Man City – who were playing at the time – would have somehow been upset by this.

The statement, when it came, made it perfectly clear that the postponement had been made in line with Premier League rules, yet by the reaction of some people, you’d swear Arsenal had set fire to a van full of puppies, laughing maniacally and twiddling our evil moustache while tying the Premier League damsel in distress to the train tracks. Sp*rs were said to be ‘furious’ and ‘angry’, again the implication that Arsenal had done something contrary to the regulations.

Let me say this: I couldn’t give a shit. There are experienced reporters out there who should know better than to publish some of the nonsense they came out with. If you want to complain about something, use your platform responsibly to talk about the rules. As I said yesterday, I think any club with just a couple of Covid cases should play, using players from their Academy to bolster the numbers. If you want to be angry, be angry at the Premier League who have cooked up these half-baked guidelines which allow this to happen.

Within that framework, Arsenal did nothing wrong. Not a single thing. Don’t talk about it being morally scandalous from our side when you’ve said nothing similar about all the other games being called off. I get more people want to see a North London derby than Burnley v Leicester, but that game was postponed 24 hours before our one and there was practically zero coverage of that. Same rules, same decision, very different reaction.

Is it shit for fans? Yes. Whose fault is that though? Not Arsenal’s. It’s the Premier League. The inconvenience of the home fans this weekend is unfortunate for them, but it was the exact same for the Arsenal fans whose plans for the Wolves game were ruined when that game didn’t go ahead. The reason: they didn’t have enough players, the same way we don’t have enough players – as per the existing rules – for this weekend’s game.

Arsenal were quite transparent too. We didn’t say we had a load of Covid cases. We didn’t have ‘suspected’ cases. We didn’t produce a plethora of very suspicious false positives. It was clear throughout that due to Covid + injuries + AFCON absences we didn’t have the numbers. Granit Xhaka being out because of suspension isn’t taken into consideration when the Premier League make their decision, so it’s not a talking point.

So, if you’re a football reporter and you’re concentrating on how this is some kind of failing on the part of Arsenal, you’re either doing it for #numbers or you’re being willingly obtuse. The rules are wrong, so talk about how the rules need to change. If you’re truly concerned about the integrity of the game and the welfare of fans, that’s what you’d be railing against rather than puking out some of the populist, unthinking, half-witted shite I’ve seen since the announcement was eventually made. You wouldn’t start bleating on about Lasagne-gate, something which happened nearly 16 years ago and which has no relevance to anything.

Frankly though, they can take their Tweets, print them out, fashion them into some kind of Papier-mache object, and stick them up their holes. What a bunch of absolute bollocks. But I’ve also quite enjoyed it. There have been more than a few incidents this season which have united the Arsenal fanbase, and given how we can divide ourselves over the tiniest things, it’s far preferable to all the in-fighting. I hope this is something those inside the club can make hay from too, a siege mentality, an us against them mindset which could be useful.

As George Graham once said, “It’s fine that people hate us. It’s part of our history.”

Somehow, during a pandemic which has disrupted dozens of football games in the last few weeks, Arsenal are the real villains here. That’s fine. If that’s the way some people want to see it, leave them on. It’s much easier to single out and ‘other’ one group than actually focus on the dreadful job the game’s authorities have made of dealing with this entire thing. On the opening day of the season, Arsenal had to play Brentford with more Covid cases than many of the recent postponements, including our two senior strikers, but we had to play. We lost as Sky Sports pundits cavorted and sang with the home fans at the end like it was all some big laugh, so if they’re now outraged by Arsenal quite literally playing by the rules, they can get bent.

Have a great Sunday Arsenal fans. As for the football ‘Intelligentsia‘, I couldn’t give a fish’s tit.

Till tomorrow.

*but also go f*ck yourselves

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