22 October 2014

Arsène is a diabolocial, passive-aggressive sadist. There. I said it.

After yet another dramatic, death-defying, last-minute positive result (we're counting draws as positive results these days, if only because there are so damned many of them), I've come to a startling, perhaps shocking realization. It's so stunningly simple that I'm surprised none of us have hit on it before. All the pieces fit. It all makes sense, if only in retrospect. Many of us can find no fault with Arsène: he's a purist and a paladin but a victim of darker, fiendish forces beyond his control. Just as many of us can find no virtue in the man: he's an anachronism bereft of new ideas and ossified to old ones. Somewhere 'twixt the two, however, lies the truth. That truth? Arsène is playing us all, even his opponents and nemeses, as patsies, as pawns in a much larger game. Even as I put these words to print, I can hear the hired goons tromping up the steps to silence me, but the truth must be told.

Think about it. We've conceded the first goal now in eight of 14 matches. That's right: 57% of the time, we're on the back-foot, usually before halftime. In those eight matches, one might expect us to drop all three points. However, a shocking trend emerges instead. We've somehow managed to find the points we need, thanks to three wins (Crystal Palace, Besiktas, and Anderlecht) and three draws (Everton, Man City, Tottenham). How? In these eight matches, we've scored a goal in stoppage time four separate times, converting draws to wins, losses to draws, and losses to wins. It's madness.

Two goals in stoppage time to win at home over Crystal Palace. One in the second leg against Besiktas. Another one to salvage a draw at Goodison Park. Another one to scrape a win at Anderlecht. It's becoming such a pattern that it's impossible to ignore. It's such a pattern that it almost seems to be...a plan. We're through the looking-glass here, people, peering past the façade to look reality straight in the face, perhaps for the first time. The scales are falling from our eyes, and we can see anew.

What do we see? Pieces assembling themselves, as if by magic. All of these last-gasp goals. The razor-thin fourth-place finishes. Deadline-day signings. It's almost as if Arsène is toying with us, daring us to lose faith only to restore it with a dramatic comeback win or a jaw-dropping signing. He even has his Machiavellian foil in Mourinho, who brazenly parades his signings and dares opponents to score first. In this new understanding it is Mourinho who is the buffoon and puppet, Arsène the puppeteer. It is no coincidence that Chelsea under Mourinho's management have been our bêtes noire, for he has served as Arsène's cartoonishly distorted doppelgänger, remorselessly amassing talent while playing boring, stultifying football.

Again, this is no coincidence. It seems abundantly clear that Arsène is playing with us, daring us to love him, inviting us to hate him, by leading Arsenal to just enough success to sustain our faith while flirting with just enough failure to fuel our fury. It's as if he's manipulating us to see just how far he can push us, testing our devotion and rewarding us only as often as is necessary. Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal. Mesut Özil signs £42m deal. Arsenal 3-2 Hull. Alexis Sanchez signs £35m deal. And on and on.

The pattern is so prevalent and so pervasive that we'd be patsies to pass it by. How often can one club flirt with disaster, entice and allure, but fail to deliver?

Even our most-dramatic signings reek of this kind of passive-aggressive recrimination. Arsène signs Özil, perhaps the paradigm of Wengerball, but plays him wide left instead of through the middle or wide right. Arsène signs Welbeck and Alexis, players who remind us of Henry and Pires (perhaps a bit unfairly) but doesn't adapt our attack to their strengths.He flirts. He teases. He revels in our Sisyphean miseries.

How else to explain the artful dodges, the near-misses, the rope-a-dopes? Surely, it is all part of a master-plan. Surely...


  1. Let us give arsene credit. I presume that it is only when we castigate arsenal that people are drawn to write ups about arsenal and commentators want people to visit thier sites and blogs.we won , we won finish

  2. You are cracking under the strain of writing and teaching, Jon. Tomorrow evening, finish your grading and lesson plans and then take a long hot bath and go to sleep early. By morning Arsene the Impaler will be only a vague memory. You will turn on your television and watch Welbeck, Walcott, and Sanchez score three magnificent goals and Arsenal's brilliant defenders will record another shutout. The camera will pan toward the Arsenal bench as the manager turns back towards it. He is wearing a scarf and a dark coat, as well as a knowing smirk. Suddenly you realize it is not Arsene. This man is much younger. It is Jose.

  3. I agree Arsene should go for continually letting transfer windows pass him by without doing the nessacary whilst persisting with some players who aren't good enough.
    But not until May, I think our forward line will click and when it does it will be devastating, but that won't be enough to secure anything better than a third placed finish.
    I can't see us progressing under Arsene because he allowes him philosophy's and idealisms to get in the way, but I do see results and performances improving over the next few weeks.

  4. Change is the law of nature and Arsenal and Wenger is no exception. He has already given what he had but now we need somebody like Klopp to guide us. It is unforgivable that Wenger did not strengthen his defense knowing fully well limitations of his squad. It's time to say goodbye to the man.

  5. much as I'd love to see Arsene as a puppet-master pulling all sorts of invisible strings, winning (or is not losing) just enough to keep us in his thrall, I suspect he's more wizard of Oz than actual wizard, insisting that we pay no mind to the man behind the curtain.

  6. There may so me question as to whether many of aspects of the great teams of recent Arsenal past were the result of brilliant purchases and tactics on the part of Arsene or just being in the right place at the right time. I think that it is a bit of both.
    AW is a great judge of talent. He also had (past tense) a great strategy and tactics that worked well with his players, their physical characteristics, and their skills. Unfortunately, times change as do players and how sports have developed. Their is a lot more money at stake, players gravitate toward their biggest paycheck and exhibit less loyalty. Scouting and game planning is much more sophisticated as are matters of fitness and training.
    While Arsenal seems to have tried to keep pace, Arsene seees mired, at times, in the past and whether for nostalgic reasons or personal stubbornness (I could include ego), has not fully adapted to the "new game". We have seen this during each recent transfer window, but also in how he selects players for the team and for each game. We also see this in game tactics, which seem to have become predictable as he insists that worked will always work. Lesser sides can overcome Arsenal by recognizing this fact despite not having players of equal ability. He now weakens the team resulting in injury because he has no choice as result of failing to strengthen or address open slots or inferior players.
    Cuchulainn has likened him to Oz although it is a bit unfair since Oz, like the Music Man, never did more than con the audience. AW has won through his ability but may not any more for the reasons stated above. Maybe he should have retired last summer after winning that one last cup. Sadly, the downside often comes up very quickly and often without warning. Worse yet, the down slope is much steeper than the climb to the top.


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