by Daisy Cutter
Having a league table in August is quite plainly just stupid. For media pundits and supporters alike to then make judgement calls based on this sham order of merit is even more ridiculous; as pre-emptive a strike as proposing marriage on a first date. Before the hors d’oeuvres have even arrived. Before you’ve noticed the discreet EDL tattoo on her ankle. Before you know anything about this person other than she has a cute wonky smile and her hair looks nice.
Yet just like The Jam sang way back in 1977 this is the modern world. The days of settling into a season, enjoying the new kits and the new signings who adorn them, and embracing the return of football after a summer of discontent are long gone.
Now the 24/7 rolling news, multimedia hysteria and ill-informed opinion and tittle-tattle starts up the very moment a ball is kicked. Only at this stage there is nothing to constructively or deconstructively report with anything resembling certainty so their views amount to shouting into thin air.
After just 180 minutes of competitive action it is impossible to gauge whether Brendan Rodger’s Anfield turn-around will be successful. There is no way of knowing if Southampton will hold their own in the top flight. Teams are still in the process of tweaking their systems, acclimatising to them, accommodating new signings, and – despite a thoroughly prepared pre-season – honing their match sharpness in the full pelt pace of the Premier League. All we can ascertain from the football we’ve witnessed so far are clues and hints but unfortunately there are newspapers to shift and pub gossip to participate in so Mark Hughes’ job is already on the line whilst ‘Arsenal Look To Readjust After Loss Of RvP And Song’ will never be chosen by any sub-editor worth his salt. ‘Arsenal In Crisis’ however gets the readers in.
Because yes inevitably there has to be a club firmly entrenched in crisis before an autumn leaf has even fallen and this year – just like last – the premature doom-mongerers have sharpened their scythes and headed for the Emirates.
Last season the Gunners started their campaign appallingly with a home reverse to Liverpool followed by that humiliating massacre at Old Trafford. And it wasn’t only the freakish scorelines that concerned or delighted depending on your allegiance, it was the haphazard defending and the evident absence of belief or spirit that prompted
many to number Wenger’s days. Writing off Arsenal in late August may have been wildly impetuous – as was proven by their impressive revival that resulted in a Champion’s League spot – but it was at least justifiable in that circumstance.
This time out however they are reconciling themselves to the catastrophic losses of Van Persie and Song, a striker they set their entire system around and the driving force in the centre who was pivotal to that system working efficiently.
Any team on the planet would miss players of such outstanding calibre.
Furthermore they have drafted in a new-look forward line, three players of undoubted quality but who all have their own unique playing styles that need to be accommodated into the Arsenal set-up. It will take time for team-mates to adjust to their movement and preferences not to mention time for the players themselves to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the English game.
They are in essence a team in mini-transition and for any side to keep two consecutive clean sheets while this occurs is something to be admired, not lambasted. This is especially pertinent when you consider that one of these stalemates was at Stoke, a renowned Achilles heel of a venue that is often used as a stick to beat Arsenal with for their supposed ‘soft centre’.
To form any conclusions after just two games is nearly always farcical reasoning. In this instance it borders on the absurd.
Arsenal in crisis? As Paul Weller sang on that 1977 song, ‘I don’t give two f***s about your review’.