Bradford City 1-1 Arsenal (AET Bradford win 3-2 on pens): Oh dear…
Before the snarly, disgruntled. how-the-fuck-did-that-happen post begins, I feel there is something all Arsenal fans should say; congratulations to Bradford City. They played their hearts out, showed the kind of hunger, spirit, and determination we lacked in almost every position, and they richly deserved the spoils. Defeat may be bitter pill to swallow in such embarrassing circumstances, but our opponents warrant their day in the sun.
As for Arsenal? Well… It’s difficult to know where to begin. I hate to be one of those smug know-it-alls that says, “I told you so”, but I did tell you so.
Throughout the hours leading up to kick-off, I was gripped with a sense of worry. Part of me just knew something dreadful was waiting on the horizon. What finally materialised was just about as bad as I think I’ve ever seen Arsenal play. In every regard they were woeful; passing, dedication, shooting, creating chances, defending. The list goes on.
It’s the easy option to try to assign blame or look for scapegoats on the back of failure. Ordinarily, I’d condemn those looking to place fault onto Aaron Ramsey’s shoulders. Today I can’t defend him. He was utterly horrendous. As bad as our Welsh midfielder was, a shadow of shite was cast over him by the mighty Gervinho. The Ivorian took gangly ineptitude in front of goal to uncharted heights – even conspiring to miss a gaping net from 3 yards out without a serious challenge to distract him.
But to place blame on two players would be unfair. Every single one of them was bloody awful. Vermaelen was sloppy, Mertesacker looked as if he was seeing a ghost every other minute, and Podolski and Chamakh might as well have not been on the pitch at all. The only person who might – and I say ‘might’ – be above some criticism is Jack Wilshere, who at least looked as if he cared about what was happening.
Bizarrely, Arsene Wenger gave praise to the efforts of his team after the game. In an interview with Sky Spoorts, he stated:
“I cannot fault the effort we gave for 120 minutes. You have to give credit to Bradford on the night. That’s part of the game.
“It’s not a lack of quality. We couldn’t convert our chances for different reasons. Overall it was a real cup game.
“We will get over that. It’s part of our club, it’s what we do.”
Giving credit to the victors is the sportsmanlike thing to do. It smacks of stubbornness, however, to commend the efforts of a team who, to even the most ardent of supporter, didn’t perform even remotely close to the required level. I’m sure most of us would see fault with the effort over 120 minutes, and if that performance was Arsenal trying their best, then we are in a worse place than I’ve previously thought.
On the back of a result like that, I’m past being angry. Instead I’m genuinely worried. In seasons past when hardship has struck, I’ve always fancied our ability to bounce back. Since those days, the players that made us great have gradually been stripped away, and we’re left with what we have now; a shadow of what we used to be. Selling our best players off at a profit looks finally to have taken a serious toll.
For every brief moment of light we get, there seems to be darker days waiting just around the corner. In a season already filled with disappointment, losing… No, being outplayed comprehensively by a side from League Two is a new low for Arsenal. The Capital One Cup represented our best chance of silverware, and now it is gone. What’s left is a season in tatters, a segregated and angry fanbase, and a manger seemingly flirting dangerously close with the sack – how many other top Club’s wouldn’t have acted by now?
Right now, I’m too damn miserable to write anymore. I’m not one to scream for knee-jerk reactions and fortunes to be spent, but something has to be done about the malaise at our club. It’s beyond a joke now. I love Arsenal, with or without trophies. But what I’m seeing on the pitch is not the Arsenal I love .
That’s all from me, fellow Gooners. Leave a comment in the box below with your thoughts – it should make for interesting reading today.
Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.