There was a time that Aston Villa taking a two goal lead against Man Utd would have me dancing around the living room, excited that the Brummies were going to do us a favour. Not these days. Watching the late kick off this evening I was mildly interested, but no more than that because as an Arsenal supporter United’s league form no longer concerns me. I have as much right to be interested in the title race as a Fulham fan and this afternoon’s draw rammed home that message — we are now on the same level as Fulham, not Man Utd.
I mean no disrespect to the Cottagers, but at the end of the day they are a modest club with limited resources who do well to finish in the top half each season. We are the fourth most valuable club in the world yet today demonstrated that our superiority does not extend to the football pitch. We are punching well below our weight on that front, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering we consistently sell our best players despite having over £100m sitting in the bank.
Anyway, on to the thrilling 3-3 draw at Emirates. Well, thrilling for the neutral, but as maddening as ever for Arsenal fans. We went 2-0 up early doors despite not playing any great football, just like we did in Schalke. Giroud headed in a corner from Walcott and then good work by Arteta while Fulham were temporarily down to ten men allowed the predatory Podolski to poke home number two.
But a contemporary Wenger side is nothing if not brittle and by half time we were level thanks to more woeful marking from a corner (I’m getting bored of mentioning our ridiculous zonal marking system) and a soft header from Kacaniklic. There’d really only been four chances so far and all of them had gone in, which should tell you something about the quality of defending from both sides.
These gentlemen couldn't give a shit whether the team wins or not. It's all about the share price
The second half was much more exciting as both sides went for the win. Decent teams are coming to the Emirates looking for three points nowadays and you can see why, as Fulham’s endeavours were rewarded when Arteta clumsily brought down Bryan Ruiz in the area. The classy Berbatov tucked away the penalty.
They didn’t hold the lead for long though as more atrocious defending allowed Giroud a clear sight of goal, but his effort hit the post when he should’ve scored. Luckily for him Walcott retrieved the loose ball, put it on the Frenchman’s head and it was 3-3 with 20 minutes still to play. Breathtaking stuff.
The game was now end to end and I cannot stress how even the match was. Betting on either side would’ve been reckless but it looked like Arsenal would nick it in injury time when Arshavin’s cross struck Sascha Riether’s arm. Ref Phil Dowd — who loves a drama — pointed to the spot for a ridiculously harsh penalty, but justice was done when Schwarzer pushed Arteta’s effort round the post. The full time whistle blew immediately.
I have to admit that I watched the game today with a mild air of disinterest, which alarmed me. I didn’t really cheer when we scored and I wasn’t really upset when we conceded. I laughed out loud at the late penalty decision and didn’t react at all when it was saved. A couple of months ago I’d have celebrated such a dramatic award like a lunatic and would have been crushed when it was spurned, but instead I felt nothing.
I think after years of seeing the same old storyline unfold I’ve developed an immunity to it all. My brain is now refusing to let me care too much about this current team because it knows there will be no happy outcome. It knows what will happen because it has seen it all before. It knows what Wenger will say because it has heard it all before. My self-defence mechanism is kicking in and I am becoming less emotional about it all by the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the club and will support it until my last breath, but the current state of affairs has left me extremely disenchanted. I had to give up my season ticket this summer because with my young family taking priority I could no longer afford it.
Also, I didn’t feel like a valued supporter anymore — rather an expendable customer who was asked to put hard-earned money into the club which the board would stockpile instead of spending on the team. A healthy cash reserve and lower debt levels drives up the share price you see and will allow Kroenke and the major shareholders on the board to make a killing when he ultimately decides to sell up and cash in. Peter Hill-Wood summed it up when he arrogantly said at the end of the AGM last month: “Thank you for your interest in our affairs.”
Well, my interest is waning Mr Hill-Wood because I’m fed up with feeling like a mug for hoping things will change. We should be level on points with the Man Utds of this world, not the Fulhams. I could accept it if the players gave 100% every week, were properly motivated by their manager and the club was doing its best to make us competitive on the pitch, but neither is happening.
What saddens me most is that we’ve got Spurs next week and to be perfectly honest I’m pretty ambivalent to the final score. I want to care, I really do, but current club policy has left me very disillusioned.
I want my Arsenal back.
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