Arsenal: Frequently Kind and Suddenly Cruel but Always a Woman to Me

The art of enjoying football is hard to grasp. I reckon my 70+ old man gets it about right: do not support a team but just look for the beauty in each and every game is his mantra. There might be a few teams he likes to do well but these change as much as the seasons in a year. He can watch – and enjoy – up to eight games in a weekend and tell me about each of them in surprising detail, whereas I can only really talk about the Arsenal game.

I used to be like him till about my late twenties, when Dennis joined Arsenal and I gradually became a monogamous lover of the mighty Arsenal. I would not change this for anything now and I am happy I found my red and white footie woman for life. When she spoils me with her attractive and winning moves I am happy, and when she disappoints me with her shortcomings I am saddened; but that is life. Arsenal, like in the Billy Joel song, is always a woman to me.

“She will promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But she’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she’s always a woman to me”


I have some sympathy for those who want Wenger out. We are humans and do not look at what we have as much as what we could have. Under Wenger we have done remarkably well, especially given the economic/financial changes the club had to endure both as a result of building THOF and managing through a severe, worldwide economic crisis.

We are witnessing progress now but for some it is not (fast) enough: their vision of the Garden of Eden is simply more rosy. We are keeping our stars now and add real gems if and when we can. Cech picked us and not any of the other clubs out there desperate for such an experienced and professional world class goalkeeper: that in itself is an achievement. We won the FA Cup twice in a row and beat the Chavs and Citeh for the season-opening Charity Shield twice in a row as well. We are still in with a shout for this year’s league title.

But some gave up on the latter months ago: they are having that deja-vu sensation of having seen it all before – of that ‘same old Arsenal’ experience. A few cuts and we are bleeding, and then fear the worst.

Arsenal, just like Billy Joel’s woman, is frequently kind and suddenly cruel, and, whether we let Arsene go or not, this will not change. Support for your team comes with joy and pain, and hopefully with more of the former and less of the latter.

The art of loving this woman is to take her as she comes and enjoy the beautiful moments as much as possible, without looking too much ahead or having too high expectations.

I loved our fightback against the Spuds. A twenty year old nearly-man passing a beautiful diagonal ball to Alexis who takes an instant diagonally placed shot past the surprised Lloris. Ten-men Arsenal pushing on for the winner at WHL and almost getting it but for a tired Rambo opting to take another touch and letting the Spuds of the hook – but then there is that cheeky back-heel by our Welsh-Wizard to make up for this. Ospina taking his chance and fighting off any self-doubt with two outstanding performances. The composure of Elneny and dynamism of Iwobi against Hull on Tuesday. I can look at Theo’s and Ollie’s goal time and again: the quality of our own Joel’s assist for Theo’s first goal; the fine first touch and cool finish by Theo; the anticipation and positioning of Ollie for both goals; the sound of the net when Theo’s second hit it.

I am hoping for more beauty against Watford at the weekend and that our woman will be kind to us again. 😉

CoyG! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

22 thoughts on “Arsenal: Frequently Kind and Suddenly Cruel but Always a Woman to Me

  • So true total, why do we watch football, if it’s just the result we might as well just watch sky sports news all day, or the BBC final score. For me watching a master at work such as Ozil brings so much joy. I was a regular to Highbury in the George Graham era and yes it was good to win ugly watching Ian ‘Wright Wright Wright’ weave his Midas goal scoring majic, trust me there was many a drab nil nils and some grotty games against teams like Wimbledon. Quality was always a miss, I remember one European night when Benfica came to play and wiped the floor with us winning 3-1 with some classy football, must have been 1992, then there was a game against Bolton in the league cup when a team managed by Bruch Rioch demolished us with some swash buckling attacking football and the infamous smashing handed out by a Man U team who put 6 past us in the League Cup, a team comprising of a 17 year old Ryan Giggs. My point here, watching masters at work is so important and lives on so much more than just dull results, hence my sudo name ‘Rocastle’ what a quality player. Even in the dry years since winning prem, we’ve been privileged to watch some superb players; Fabregas, Van Persie, Nasri, Wiltshire, Rosicky, Ozil, Sanchez. These guys are capable of creating special moments within a game. Your point that we are at the beginning of something special is so true and I thank you for reminding me, results bar Tuesday nights have been very damming since Feb 14th, but we need to keep in mind what Wenger is trying to achieve. When I watched Iwobi & Elneny’ game on Tuesday it was like a beautiful sun rising on a new day. I really do think it would be something special if we could win the FA cup 3 times in a row.

  • Cheers Rocastle – aka Rocky 🙂

    That is a fine comment and oh so true. Beauty is around us and it takes an appreciative eye to see it; and yours definitely does!

    I never saw Rocastle play but I share my birthday with him and I know he died at a young age. Can you describe to us what sort of player he was and what you loved about him please?

  • Excellent comment there, Rocky…

    TA, In a certain way, this post might go with some of the questions I asked in the previous one…Mine was bad timing, of course, but together the two posts maybe make a…


    I think… 😀

    I wasn’t holding my breath in terms of good responses, but Rocky proved me wrong…

  • Personally, I’m seeing a lot less beauty in the Arsenal these days…but, you never know, it could come around again…

    Our best players–Ozil and Alexis–need to work out their combination play, IMO, and I just don’t see it happening… I was pleased that their defensive harrying (on the left touchline) won a ball that led to our opening goal vs Swansea, but I saw little of them working together in the Spurs game. There was precious little of that happening in the ManU game as well. 1 point from the 9 on offer (when we needed at least 6…) creates a fog whereby it gets even tougher to enjoy the football…

    That said, If we can beat Watford at home–not easy esp. if those two start on the bench as they did at Hull, we’d be in with a shout for the final two matches at Wembley. By the end of the weekend, it’s somewhat likely we’ll be in 4th place in the league (City play at Norwich…) and 11 points behind in the league (Leicester host Newcastle). Spurs could also increase the (dreaded) gap playing at Villa… Of course they also have to play in Dortmund tonight, so maybe Remi Garde can get his boys something from that one…

    For most Gooners, I fear, such things eclipse any beauty they might get out of our match… 😦

    I also fear for the ACTUAL beauty now that Ramsey appears to be joining Santi and Jack (not to mention Tomas and Mikel) in the “out for the season” (or nearly so…) ranks… I’m not giving up until the math makes things impossible but it seems more realistic trying to focus on the 3 matches (that would see us lift a 3rd FA Cup)…

    For me, the guys I’ve mentioned are the players I really enjoy watching. I also like our Spanish fullbacks (Nacho might have a knock, too…) and those forwards (Theo, Ollie, JC and DW…) when they put the ball in the net or help others do the same. They’re all so different in playing style that it makes for big changes in our overall game depending upon who plays…. The same could be said at the back. I like both quick and smart defenders and springy and calm goalkeepers–sometimes I just wish changing out individuals didn’t seem so fraught. I see some good potential in some of the others who are getting chances given all the injuries too…

    All told, however, the demand for results and the toxicity of the overall situation undermines the amazing fact that we have a manager who actually tries to take responsibility for it all. For some, blame (and the ax down across his neck…) could be synonymous with responsibility, and it might feel good to dole it out (for a moment…), but then what?…

  • That’s beautifully written! And finally a sane non hysterical voice the arsenal media sphere

  • wow Seventeenho there is quite a bit of negativity there and I don’t like that gravatar either 😦
    I suggest you write a post covering everything rather than me responding to this comment now as I don’t know where to start. What I do not understand is why you find it amazing that Wenger takes responsibility for what you see as a dire situation, or that other fans, who are equally as disappointed as you, feel that Wenger needs to be axed; but there you go… 🙂

  • TA, Sorry about the avatar…It’s been changed… No more puppy avatar (nor talk…) for me as I was fairly deeply offended by the advice I was given about her name… (I was trying to just ignore it, but there you go…)

    I’m not quite sure what you’re saying about the Wenger Out movement… They chose to unfurl the banner after we won a match 4 goals to nil (!?!), which is at least consistent… This sentence is not clear to me:

    “What I do not understand is why you find it amazing that Wenger takes responsibility for what you see as a dire situation, or that other fans, who are equally as disappointed as you, feel that Wenger needs to be axed; but there you go… ”

    Perhaps I’ll understand how I confused you if you can make that clearer…

    Or maybe we agree? To me the Wenger out movement is as you describe it. There’s a dream about the Garden of Eden (or some other paradise…) when all the evidence (see all the other so-called big clubs below us in the table, getting knocked out of Europe, etc.) suggests otherwise…
    To me, that’s the opposite of a committed relationship… They’d rather have a typical manager, the sort who uses the club to advance his own career, spending the club’s money, willy and nilly, like throwing darts with a blind-fold on…

    The only thing I find dire (besides that sort of media-induced group think) is the injury situation…You and I value the creative players (I think) and they are in short supply. I’m excited about Iwobi and Elneny (plus Coquelin) doing it again this Sunday and we can overcome it (the injuries to Ramsey, Santi, Jack, Tomas and Mikel…quite a list…), I think, IF Ozil and Alexis and a couple (of the forwards…) get it working and balls start going in rather than hitting bars and posts and goalkeeper hands on the best days of their career… The league looks a tougher proposition but I still hold out hope…

    Anyhow, gotta run, but I could probably write something this afternoon if you’d like… More direction, however, would be helpful… Cheers…

  • Seventeenho

    That sentence was trying to summarise what you were saying in your last paragraph of your second comment…

    Thanks for changing the gravatar and yes a post would be very welcome. 😜

  • Sorry, I still don’t understand… We are in agreement?…

    I’m put off by all the negativity that I’m feeling in the Goonersphere, but at the same time I cannot (in good conscience…) write anything too hopeful. I like our chances in the FA Cup, not so much in the return leg there at Barca and then it’s a tough turnaround for the match at Everton next weekend. If we can win that one, I think we could really kick on…

    Like I tried to say in the (abortive) live blog post, winning at Hull was VERY important and I think a similar team can do it again vs Watford, even if we’ll get the tiniest fraction of the type of atmosphere they generated at Anfield tonight…

    That’s a sad state of affairs–and I’ve been meaning to salute Davy from NZ in noting it–That folks are perpetually dissatisfied unless they get the happy ending. To borrow from the theme of this post, you throw in for better or worse, in sickness and in health… Or else you just go chasing skank. That Tiger Woods guy married a good looking gal (Elin Nordegren, Google it, if you must…) but then he took that Nike slogan (Just Do It) a bit too far…

    Anyhow, I still could use some guidance… More sarcasm (along these lines…) or a bait and switch (to see how many disgruntled Gooners we could lure in for click–also along those lines) doesn’t seem good… I could just get going on the preview?…

  • Guys,

    I was too busy these few days to even see what is going on about 17ht’s new puppy.

    Either we give the same team another game time and rest the likes of Ozil and BFG, or we can play the first team for the last 30 minutes to get some workout before Tuesday match.

    But i need to say we cannot undermine our opponents. They have a chance to shock us if we do not take them seriously.


  • Seventeenho 🙃

    You appear down on both the way we are playing and the way other Gooners are supporting Arsenal, who are equally as down on the team as you are, with the only difference that you stay supportive about Arsene. You say you don’t see much beauty and this seems to be focused around a lack of combination play between Ozil and Alexis. I, on the other hand, think we are still seeing a lot of beauty in our current football, but still understand why you and others are dissatisfied with the way we play. My focus is on the beauty in our game and taking game by game with plenty of hope that we can still get some silverware out of this season.

    Anyway, lets move on and accept it is one of those days in which we fail to understand each other…. 😛

  • It’s always a dodgy subject to critisise the supporters. At the end of the day you pay your money and take your choice. Whilst personally I don’t agree with the ‘goodbye Wenger ‘ banner at Hull, you could make an argument that supporters who attend home and away matches do have more right to air their views. For many years now our team have threatened to challenge for the title and always fallen short. Any supporter who has not been frustrated by this, must be incredibly optimistic or slightly doo lally in my opinion. But we live in hope and true supporters still pay homage at the next match.

    I am not supporting the banner, but it could have been a lot worse. If you read between the lines, you could read something along these lines

    Arsene you have done a fantastic job. You have kept the team competitive through some lean years. This is a great achievement given the stadium build and two ultra rich playboys buying teams as playthings / advertising fronts. However now we need to push on and maybe it’s time
    To consider passing on the reigns to a younger idea with new ideas.

    Me I am still an Arsene knows best.

    17HT you mentioned the great support at Anfield the other night and it truly was great. However
    Arsenal v Spurs matches do generate great atmospheres. Plus my experience of Liverpool supporters has been limited to dealing with thugs ( I am sure they are not all thugs). I attended the 1972 cup semi final replay at Goodison Park versus Stoke City. Liverpool suppers attacked Arsenal supporters club coaches with bricks smashing lots of Windows. Pretty nasty when you consider they weren’t even playing.

  • Or Arsene we don’t care that your team just won 4-0 and is close to a fantastic achievement of winning three FA cups in a row, not done since the 19th Century: feck off anyway. A bunch of idiots if you ask me.

    I have time for people who would like to see Wenger replaced but putting up a silly banner when we just won is the act of morons imo. The reality is of course that Wenger is a safe pair of hands for the BoD when it comes to guaranteeing maximum income against reasonable costs, and only a fool would sack him in their position. 😕

  • Total, a most unusual but very interesting post…

    David Rocastle was a wonderful footballer, who would be worth £50 million today.
    Until the injuries took their toll, he had pace, a powerful shot, tackled like a demon, had superb close control and was an accomplished dribbler with the ball seemingly tied to his boots. Wenger would have loved him…

    On top of that he was a really nice guy and an Arsenal man through and through…
    He never wanted to leave Arsenal and actually in tears when George Graham told him that Arsenal had accepted an offer from Leeds for him…

    Sadly missed by all Gooners who were fortunate to see him play…

  • Thank you Allezkev and TA for reminding us of Rocky a really nice guy and a fantastic talent. I never got to see him play. I started watching when Smith half volleyed that goal against Parma in the Cup winners cup.. Ahh that was a good memory. 🙂 ..

    As I said a number of posts back I am not a football fanatic, there is more to life and I think it is unhealthy to identify so fervently with one team or another. As you may have guest I am definitely not partial to the tribal culture and the violent implications that stem from it. It saddened me to see blood spilt outside WHL last week. I steer clear of all that while appreciating the beautiful parts of the game. I am not sure of the future of our game. The financial side has been much discussed but the cultural aspect with rising ticket prices, football being seen as entertainment. Supporters who feel entitled to more and more, in a game where there can only be one winner..

    TA is right that there still is beauty in our play and plenty of positives are still there. I actually saw that beauty even in the way we played under George Graham. The disciplined workmanlike performances with a sprinkling of flair and ability to go with the grit and determination. Ian Wright and Highbury the magic.. Then came Bergkamp.. 🙂

    On the disappointment we all feel.

    It is important not to be reactionary particularly in positions of responsibility. I wonder in the age of entitlement if fans will ever see that we are actually all responsible to take the long term view. The season hasn’t finished yet so I say get behind the team and push the team forward – that is our job!!

    My dissapointment extends to the players that have on more than one occasion let Wenger down with sub-standard performances. In the age of social media etc these players need to close ranks create their own positive culture and not buy into the entitlement culture of the fans and commentators. Easier said than done but the team meeting Theo talked about may (fingers crossed) have helped in this regard.

    Fans and players need to be aware – we are playing in the most competitive season in premier league history.

    I empathise with you HT and your negativity towards reactions of some/many of our ‘supporters’ and commentators re: our dip in form.. we live in unenlightened times.. It is also difficult for many to see that their opinions stem from a wholly selfish, reactionary and ‘I want it now’ culture that doesn’t appreciate the long term or the multi-faceted job of managing a football club and being a part of that team.

  • A couple of very good comments there… re: the concepts of blame and responsibility… Though many folks equate them, to me they seem very different. If blame = sacking then you need someone new (or a bunch of them…) to take responsibility. We maybe should always remember that the contracts (for managers and players) always get paid no matter what the results. (And in this regard I think it’s good the well payed players had that meeting…) New ideas mean new contracts (again, for both new managers and new players, with the old ones still paid…) but absolutely no guarantee about results… For many fans bored by the status quo, a change is always good, but we only have to look below us (in the table) to see that it doesn’t always mean improvement… (Like the current post suggests, no matter what, there’s still the game to be enjoyed…)

    I guess ManCity haven’t made their change yet. Their draw at Norwich in the early match means we stay 3rd in the league…

    I’m guessing that the Friday evening post didn’t materialize, TA, but correct me if I’m wrong. If that’s the situation I’ll just give the Watford preview a touch-up and then put it out… Cheers…

  • I started something but didn’t manage to finish it, Seventeenho. I will work on it more next week, so issuing the PV is more than fine with me. 👌🏽

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