Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Life As An Arsenal Fan Is Seldom Easy,

It's very hard knowing what to write about Arsenal some days. With the defeat to "Manure" on Monday night still fresh in my memory I suppose I could go over that ground again, but to be honest there's no point really. From my perspective I thought that Arsene Wenger tried to keep things tight, and nick a draw or a victory, but it didn't work out. It's behind Arsenal now, and the past cannot be changed, but the future can.

The life of an Arsenal fan is a bit of a roller coaster ride this season, like so many others in the past. With information and opinions so readily available before, during and after games it would seem that everybody wants instant gratification. That can lead to fans venting their frustration on the internet, radio phone-ins or the TV, and sometimes the anger is aimed at the players and/or the manager. It would seem that it always has to be someone's fault that Arsenal have lost, and either the manager must go, or three or four of the players aren't good enough.

I can remember much bleaker days before the reign of Arsene Wenger, and some pretty bad ones during his reign as well. One of the very worst memories for me was the 1988 League Cup Final against Luton Town. Arsenal had won the trophy the year before, after a gap of eight years without a trophy, and various managers had come and gone. In beating Liverpool in the 1987 final Arsenal had broken a hoodoo involving Ian Rush, in which Liverpool had never lost when he had scored. Arsenal went 1-0 down in that game, and came from behind with two Charlie Nicholas goals to break that hoodoo and defeat the team who were kings of English football at the time.

The next year Arsenal made it to the final again, and this time they were huge favourites against a supposedly vastly inferior Luton team. After going behind early on, Arsenal fought back in the second half, and took a 2-1 lead. Arsenal were all over Luton like a rash, and missed chance after chance, before eventually missing a penalty. Luton scored in the last ten minutes, and then disaster struck when Gus Caesar made a mess of things, and gifted Luton a last minute winner. The abuse I got as an Arsenal fan after that game was immense, but it didn't change the love for my club.

Arsenal went on to win their first league title in 18 years the next season with a dramatic last minute goal in the last game of the season against Liverpool. That denied Liverpool the title, and if I live to be 100 I don't think I will ever see drama like it again. That Arsenal team won another league title two years later, and they went a long way towards breaking the stranglehold that Liverpool had on English domestic football.

There have been other days of intense joy and bitterness since then, and beforehand as well. I can remember a 6-1 defeat at home to "Manure" in the 1998 League Cup, when Lee Sharpe scored a hat-trick. The abuse I took from "Manure" fans in a country that is infested by them was intense, but it didn't deter me in my support for Arsenal. There was a 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford to "Manure" in the Premier League in 2001 as "Manure" romped to their third League title in a row, and Arsenal's defensive display was so inept that it scared me.

Both of those games were terrible games to witness, but in 1998 Arsenal went on to win the double of the Premier League and the FA Cup, and the season after that 2001 game Arsenal again won the double. In the years in between those doubles there were no trophies, but there were a lot of near misses. Maybe that's where the problem lies now, as Arsenal haven't really come genuinely close to winning a trophy since they lost the 2006 Champions League final to Barcelona. The fans need to feel that there is a genuine chance of lifting some silverware, and displays like Monday night's make them think that it just won't happen.

It's worth remembering that Arsene Wenger has brought a style of football to Arsenal that the fans could only have dreamed of before he took the reins.  That doesn't excuse the lack of trophies, and his current belief that his frugal approach will pay dividends is on the verge of failing if something isn't delivered very soon. It has to be remembered though that there are only a maximum of four trophies to be handed out every season, and fans of quite a lot of other clubs believe that they have a right to those trophies too.

There is a very fine line between success and failure sometimes, and I honestly believe that Arsenal are right on that line at the moment. If they can get Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen fit and ready to play for the second half of the season I genuinely believe that there is a very good chance of a league title coming their way, and if not a league title at least the FA Cup. There are not too many teams who can cope without arguably their three best players for almost half of a season, and Arsenal are no different. The standard of the top teams in the Premier League has dropped this season, and Arsenal are good enough to win it with those three players available.

The plus side of missing so many important players is that other players step up to the plate, and in my opinion both Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere have done just that this season. It would be great to see them perform with a full strength Arsenal team, and let them be judged on their achievements as a full strength team.

That's it for today.

See You Tomorrow.


  1. Nice point.

    Although I never had the luxury of experiencing those historic moments, I still get what you mean, the treatment you get from the Manures are extremely harsh... but fortunately because I am a girl, my friends usually take it lighter on me but still the defeat itself is painful enough to bear...

    The atmosphere around Emirates has been getting lackluster of late as I've heard and I believe it's affecting everyone's spirits.

    And yes, its hard to have hope when it looks rather bleak, but I think what a true fan could offer at the very least is one's support to the team no matter what. Because what defines your passion is not merely just the trophies they have but the love for the club, players and the play.

    So I would say chin up, the day will come again soon.

  2. @Serena I'm sure our day will come again and I really hope it's very soon, but I'm still in good spirits about our chances this season.