Heck is Going on Here?
With a weekend win perhaps we deserve a breath…and some Monday Musings…
Football “analysis” these days tends to follow a couple of extremes. In the heat of the moment it’s all about dire declarations. With my little attempt at “live-blogging” the other day, we lured a new comment writer to do just that… As Ernest Tubb (American country music legend) would say, asking his guitar player from the Texas Troubadours (Leon Rhodes) to take a solo, “And Leon”…
Leon Kingsford says:
Giroud loads more ammunition into the guns of his detractors.
And now, at the beginning of December it looks like another fight for fourth place.
The decision to not sign any outfield players in the summer looks like a stroke of genius…
Next, of course, ET would ask Buddy Charlton to take a turn on the pedal steel guitar…
In that same heat of the moment, I told Leon to head on back to Piers Morgan’s place. Far more polite and spot-on, “AB” asked more astute questions:
“Who would you have signed Leon? A bench player, or someone you wanted dropped from our 1st 11?”
I think AB was asking Leon who (exactly) he would have dropped from our first 11… Both of us, I believe, were talking about the fact that hindsight is 20-20. Alas, we actually won the match, so now it’s all moot—until the next moment of struggle, when the “I told you so” narrative can be happily deployed. Leon, cheers for dropping by. If you’re still reading, please share your thoughts…
For the first time in a while Arsenal got the result they needed. But there’s always the next match. Maybe we’ll see Leon again if we fail to beat Olympiakos by 2 to nil or 3 to anything. Match Preview for that one comes tomorrow. Today, I’d rather look at the league table and see what it says.
What it doesn’t say is that league leaders Leicester should be crowned as champions. What it also doesn’t say is that Arsenal, just because we’re 2nd, should be either. Neither team–one a group which has only been back in the league for less than 2.5 seasons and the other, Arsenal, a club which, as Leon suggests, is built for it’s own relegation fight (to avoid dropping out of the Champions League places)–is a shoo in. Those Manchester Clubs—churning and burning money as if it were black country coal running the textile mills some 150 years ago—should be clear favourites. After all, Sterling, DeBruyne and Otamendi cost some 150 million pounds. (And that’s not counting their contracts.) Martial, Depay, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlein cost about that much. (And surely United had to pay someone to lose the paperwork which might have sent De Gea to Real Madrid). Who did Arsenal buy? Back to Leon: Not a soul.
Or not a single outfield player. Goalkeepers, we know, don’t have souls…
(Who did Leicester buy? Gohkan Inler, a veteran deep lying midfielder who has hardly played for them. At the time, I thought we had missed a trick and we might have nipped in for him.)
What the table says—and what the season to this point clearly shows—is that we need to follow the money in a slightly different manner. As the season wears on, I predict, the cynicism of the big money will wear down the happier stories of the early season. Chelsea will not be relegated and the Manc Money will keep those teams in the top 4. Arsenal, a club which is actually spending money—oftentimes on giving their current players longer contracts to keep them with us—will be there as well.
That said, on any given match-day, the new money ALL teams in the league have at their disposal—due to equal sharing of the massive television contract worth over 5 Billion pounds—allows a level of competition which, just as the TV folks would have hoped, makes the league the most watchable and most unpredictable competition in all of top level club football. Well-done, media moguls, I say.
The effect, however, on us, er, lesser lights of the media spectrum–the pundits, the print (or former print) outlets, the bloggers and the tweeters–is less kind. There are no easy matches so there are no easy predictions. Unless you enjoy saying, “I’ll admit it, I was wrong,” the only course of action is digging in and shouting louder.
Or you can just wait until your team (Arsenal, in this case) struggles again.
In the meantime, I’d like to salute Leicester City. Claudio Ranieri and his players have done an amazing thing. Everybody thought a team in blue—led by a former Chelsea manager—would be leading the league after 15 matches, they just didn’t think it would be you. Additionally, I’d like to salute the positive football being played up there: 32 goals is A LOT.
I’d also like to salute the resiliency of Arsenal’s team. The group Arsene Wenger stuck with—despite a chorus of less than full support in their demands for more—have done a job. We’re battered (for sure) but we’re not beaten, and, I believe, this group will keep giving whatever they can until the last ball is kicked. Will that be enough to win the league? To win anything? Who knows and, for me, who cares. They’ve already won my heart.
Your mileage may (and probably does) vary. Are you ‘satisfied’ with this Arsenal team to this point? Do results define your perspective or will you happily stick to your feelings that management did or didn’t ‘do enough’ over the summer? What do you want to see happen in January? (For me, that’s a very tough question and will depend a lot on what happens between now and then, particularly on Wednesday.)
C’mon all you Monday Morning Quarterbacks…Let loose and go for the end zone, or goal, or whatever…