VTF – Volatile Tolerance of Frustration
I would like to reflect on a few Arsenal games played between the October and November interlulls, using the basic 1 to 10 scale. I’m sure you are also disappointed for most of them, but maybe the levels and the order in your case are different. Don’t hesitate to share your insights in the comments below.
We couldn’t keep a clean sheet at home against Wolves – ☼☼ (2 of 10)
A clean sheet is not everything. There could be infrequent lapses of concentration, individual mistakes, impossible-to-defend rockets or superb team attacks; so as long as only a single goal is conceded I don’t really panic. The team’s job is to minimize the number/probability of chances created by the opponent, limit the severity of such attempts, and even if we concede they should respond to it with 3-4 goals of our own. If I would be a manager, I would set a 3:1 win as an expectation and would reward my players compared to the differences with the actual result.
We dropped out from the Carabao Cup against Liverpool – ☼☼☼☼ (4 of 10)
I don’t like being dropped out. Not just because of the reputation or one less chance to win a trophy, but each missed cup game is 990 minutes lost for fringe players to gain maturity, confidence, or just to experiment with different tactics. With that being said I did not expect do go through as we were unlucky to draw Liverpool at Anfield, so we were not the favourites of this tie (well, I am quite confident that Arsenal has one of the strongest B-teams in the world – maybe behind Manchester City, but definitely ahead of Barcelona and Liverpool – but this could be the topic of another post for the future). Therefore I was a bit sad, but not really frustrated, as this was kind of foreseeable before the game – but less expected at 1:3 and 2:4.
Emery experimenting with different formations – ☼☼☼☼ (4 of 10)
As a general principle I support experimenting. So kudos for Emery for trying to change. But I still don’t understand that a manager/coach of his calibre cannot see that the number of shots on goal is closely connected to the chances created, and in order to improve that, we need either a midfield overhaul or creative players. The 5-2-2-1 formation we started against Vitoria Guimaraes realized neither. Maybe he was surprised of the outcome, but I wasn’t. Sorry to say that, but probably it was good that the Portuguese team equalized eventually, otherwise he could have thought that he found/invented something viable. Anyway, experimenting only makes sense if one is smart enough to realize if a particular alternative is a dead end.
We conceded 5 goals in 90 minutes against a ’B team’ – ☼☼☼☼☼ (5 of 10)
I’m on my way to become a Zen-master, but these 5 goals are still not such an unmitigated disaster. This defence is (hopefully) not that poor. We had an unlucky own goal, a penalty, and a few individual mistakes. If we would replay this fixture, we wouldn’t concede 5 goals, for sure. But we wouldn’t score 5 either, as we got away with an offside, a few (but huge) individual mistakes, etc. At the end of the day I think luck was evenly distributed between the two sides. Both defences were playing poor that night, but that made it quite an enjoyable game. Too bad that we didn’t have the last laugh though.
Poor game management and sub-optimal team selection again and again – ☼☼☼☼☼☼ (6 of 10)
This makes me only moderately frustrated, but rather perplexed (and slightly amused). Last year Emery made Arsenal the team to salvage the most points from losing situations, now we are probably the team losing the most points from winning situations. Have aliens abducted the manager and replaced him with Sam Allardyce? Being serious, the common thing to both situations is that you need a bad starting line-up; but while last year the substitutions and the fighting spirits led to turnarounds, this year even our weaker line-ups are capable to score goals, but we don’t have neither the discipline nor the experience to save our leads – especially when unprofessionally stupid changes are made.
4 shots, 2 on target, 1 goal at home – ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ (7 of 10)
OK, that started to p*ss me off. If we lose points it’s bad enough, but at least we should lose them in style. Have bad luck, referee bias, VAR-malfunction, act of god, etc. But – unless we get beaten by a clearly superior opponent – I want to feel proud for our play and feel angry about hitting a post 3 times and being denied multiple obvious penalties. But feeling lucky for a home draw against a weaker team is an emotion I am not familiar with as a Gunners-fan. Arsenal had a signature style of playing eye-catching attacking football, overwhelm the opponents with creativity, etc. that was one of the reasons I started supporting this great club. Oh, I miss Wengerball so much…
Double standards everywhere (among fans and bloggers) – ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ (10 of 10)
I had to relinquish my dream that all Arsenal fans are my brothers and sisters. It was such an attractive dream, as someone cheering for the Gunners must have great taste, must be smart, and must have superior analytical skills, right? Well… not exactly. Sometimes ‘former arsenal legends’ seem to know shit about football (and I’m no expert, so if someone knows less than me, that would probably qualify for shit), and people are easily influenced by populist pundits, lousy commentators and stupid tweets. But what really p*sses me off are the double standards.
If the reaction after Luiz makes a penalty-foul is “get rid of this clown” then Martinelli should get the same treatment. Mustafi made an unforced own goal against Liverpool, but he made 13 (!) clearances in the same game. You cannot give a rating of 3 after that. If Xhaka as a CM gets criticized like “sell him now, ffs” when he doesn’t prevent a cross from the by-line, then you cannot be forgiving with Guendouzi who couldn’t head the ball away when Origi (the player he man-marked) managed to kick (!) the ball into the net.
Yes, football is an emotional game, but emotions should be limited to actually watching the game or the highlights. When reflecting, one should switch into analytical mode, and replace feelings with unbiased arguments and objective reasoning. If someone does not have the emotional self-awareness to realize that s/he is not calm enough to see the clouds in his/her judgement that should have the decency to refrain from instant reaction. Or we find ourselves in a sad and unnecessary and senseless witch-hunt like the fans have against Xhaka – see TA’s link to the great Arsenal blog post a few days ago.