This has been a grim week for Arsenal supporters. Up 2-0 at the half of the first North London Derby of the Premiership season, the Gunners capitulated to the Spuds, 2-3. Then a few nights later, a somewhat revamped squad turned in an anemic performance, losing 2-o to Portuguese side, SC Braga, putting their chances of moving beyond the group stage of the Champions League in some doubt.
Better pundits or bloggers than I have floated their theories in recent days about why a team with so much talent, guided by a brilliant manager, has the consistency of a schizophrenic. What Gooner doesn’t have his/her opinion, theories, recommendations. Much of what I’ve read has been typical knee-jerk stuff ala Wenger must go, or Bendtner, Clichy, Denilson, or (insert Arsenal player here) is rubbish, but none of it is much of a salve in the wound.
Adding insult to injury is the worrisome realization that our hated rivals are making more noise than we’re used to hearing. Beating us at home for the first time in 17 years and then qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League before we have, is more salt in our wounds.
So what is it we as Gooners are supposed to do? Blessed by a club that has finished in the top four of the Premiership and qualified for the Champions League every year under Arsene Wenger, there is still an immense frustration building amongst us as we seem to have settled into a role as perennial also-rans.
Paul, the preeminent (OK, the only) West Ham supporter at Maggie McGarry’s Irish Pub, recently said to me, I’m West Ham mate, I expect nothing and I get nothing. The honest statement of a pragmatic realist? Or the acceptance of a fatalist used to coping with loss? Regardless, a potent reminder of how many clubs are dying of thirst for the water we drink regularly.
These are that times separates the casual fan from the the Gooner that bleeds red and white. I’ve not been an Arsenal supporter long enough to remember LBW (Life Before Wenger), but I know in my heart this is not a flirtation, some immature dalliance easily forgotten or washed away by pints.
Thus, we have no choice but to be grateful for what we have and steel ourselves for what lies ahead. And hope our Gunners can deliver a good old-fashioned shellacking at Aston Villa this weekend.
As someone once said, yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose.
C’MON YOU GUNNERS!