A wiser man than I once said, “Don’t ever meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed” – a phrase I’ve taken as gospel since the fateful moment I first heard it uttered. Since that day, meeting current and former Arsenal players hasn’t been something of particular interest – I’m not sure I could take meeting Patrick Vieira and discovering he wouldn’t be willing to frolic through a plush meadow hand-in-hand. In slow-motion. As birds sing to us.
However, thanks to the delightful folks at Europcar Sport, yesterday myself and some of my friends from The Goonersphere Podcast where invited down to The Emirates to take part in a live Tweeting event during the Swansea Vs Arsenal game (I’ll get to that in a moment). The cherry on the cake here was being able to meet and interview bonafide Arsenal great, Ray Parlour. When the chance to briefly converse arose, Ray was a genuinely humorous and amiable fellow, apparently more than happy to answer questions and put pen to merchandise – the current away shirt I have adorned with his signature shall be framed and take pride of place on my wall at home.
Ray regaled us with stories from yesteryear and offered his personal views on the current Arsenal team – when pressed, he selected Tony Adams as the one player from his era that could immeasurably improve the team of 2014 – Patrick Vieira was a close second. Daniel Cowan recorded the interview and I hope to have the entire transcript to bring to you at a date in the not-so-distant future.
To briefly summarise; it was a great day made all the more memorable by the presence of some wonderful people – they know who they are. Perhaps most significantly of all, it has re-knindled the dying embers of blogging inclination inside my ridiculous head by reminding me that moments like this and the people you meet are the dizzying heights I aspired towards when starting.
So, let’s talk about the one rather large blotch on the copybook of what was otherwise a faultless day – Arsenal’s lacklustre display and result at Swansea.
Where to begin…
To state the obvious; the performance was lacking and the result was considerably worse than I’d hoped for. Whilst far from abysmal, the display as a whole was spoilt by the occurrence of what now seems a customary feature to Arsenal fixtures; poor defending. Injuries have plagued our rear guard since the season began and show no signs of relenting. Coupled by what is almost universally seen as a mistake in failing to recruit reinforcements, the fragility we possess in our defensive third offers the impetuous to our opponents – teams aren’t as afraid to attack us because the chance of reward is higher.
Yet, I don’t feel the current failings are as simple as just poor form and absentees. A greater malaise hovers above the team and pinpointing exactly what it is is difficult. Perhaps the players lack motivation, perhaps Arsene Wenger’s insistence on attacking football is hurting us when often a degree of caution and stability is required. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
The truth is I have absolutely no idea. We live in a time where social media has offered all and sundry the opportunity to express their views to a wider audience. Some spew hateful dross to cultivate fame through notoriety, others try to deconstruct tactics in an upbeat as positive fashion. Yet none of us know the innermost secret and workings of Arsenal behind closed doors.
As an Arsenal fan, I believe it’s best to steer clear of Twitter and other forums of such ilk when the chips are down because agenda and hatred takes precedence in an avenue in which shock value and controversy sells. There is little marketability in a rationalised view. There are unquestionably troubles and problems at Arsenal and performances and results are as poor as they have been for a while. In times like these, supporting becomes all the more important. Hate begets hate and the more the atmosphere becomes poisonous and vitriolic, the more such things filter down to the players on the pitch and cause them to become inhibited.
It might be glistening with idealism to say so; but we are all in this together and all want the same thing. Football is a fickle mistress and fortunes can change dramatically in a short period of time. I’m travelling down for our next fixture on the 22nd with Manchester United. I can think of no better tonic, not better means of kick0-starting our season, than a victory. The players stand a far better chance of obtaining that result if we’re all behind them for he full 90 minutes.
That’s all for today, folks. I shall be back more often than not to splurge whatever floats around my brainbox for your reading pleasure, and I shall endeavour to keep my word this time. Until that time, why not use the comments to share your views of he game and anything else you might feel like jotting down.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.