Strolling around to Saturday’s curtain-raiser, I pondered on whether the Arsenal might have increased matchday programme prices to £3.50, which was a sad reflection on where our club is at present, with us arriving at the opening game of a new season, with nothing more exciting awaiting us upon arrival than the introduction of goal-line technology!
Perhaps it’s an inevitable result of the waning enthusiasm of my advancing years, but where in the past I’ve always looked forward to the first game of the season with spine-tingling anticipation, in shooting the breeze with some of my Gooner pals, it seemed evident to me that I was far from alone in my unenthused feeling that the club’s apparent failure to stimulate our excitement with our apparent transfer-window inertia, had resulted in a disappointingly downbeat “are we really back here already” mood. Let’s face it, you know you’re not properly firing on all four Gooner cylinders, when instead of walking around to the Arsenal to watch the Premiership’s spoilt, greedy brats perform for the first time in a couple of months, you’re half tempted to stop indoors and watch seriously dedicated and humble sportsmen perform in the athletics.
But then unlike in years gone by, where absence made the heart grow fonder, part of the problem nowadays is that the not so beautiful game never truly shuts shop. Thus we arrived at the ground to watch a game involving an Arsenal side that we know full well is currently no closer to battling for honours than we’ve been in recent seasons.
Mind you, it all looked very promising for the first five minutes, with an opening goal that resulted from the sort of slick footballing entertainment, which was the trademark of the Arsenal of old. But it didn’t take long for us to be brought back down to earth with a bump, as Sczczny did likewise to Agbonlahor after he’d glided through the final third of the park unchallenged.
No matter any grievances with subsequent decisions, the truth of the matter is that the Gunners lack the necessary firepower to ensure that incompetent officiating is a minor insignificance. Moreover if our squad appeared painfully shallow prior to the weekend, unfortunately the patently dysfunctional failure of the Arsenal’s suits to do their obscenely well-rewarded job, has ensured that these particular chickens have well and truly limped home to roost.
The problem now, is that much like after our early season humbling at Old Trafford a couple of seasons back, after keeping his hands in his pockets all summer, Arsène will probably be forced to panic buy our way out of trouble, with a last minute, haphazard supermarket sweep. And even if we do witness a Wenger spending spree, with Champions League qualification and the North London derby only around the corner, it might well prove to be too little, too late.
While I appreciate that there might be any number of undisclosed problems purchasing certain star players, what I simply cannot fathom is why the Gunners are incapable of buying absolutely any players, before the clock starts ticking down every single summer. If I were responsible for the Arsenal’s transfer business, I would’ve long since handed in my notice, in utter embarrassment at my own incompetence!
Just about the only minor positive note of a thoroughly depressing afternoon was the positive performance of Rosicky. Yet in the absence of Arteta, we’ve absolutely no midfielders with sufficient nous and responsibility to sit at home and ensure that we don’t end up embarrassed by a swift counter, when pressing for some redemption.
And don’t get me started on our lack of defensive cover. I know that the embarrassment of riches available to the likes of Man City does not necessarily make them contenders, but you don’t need any coaching badges to know that you are going to come unstuck going into a campaign without four viable centre-backs and four full-backs.
Still as everyone keeps reassuring me, it’s only the first game of many and who knows, perhaps le Prof will pull several rabbits out of the hat in the weeks ahead and everything will be hunky-dory. Only time will tell and if Wenger can silence all those bullish Spurs fans in two weeks time, I will forgive him anything.
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