Irritated. That’s the best word I can think of to describe how I’ve been feeling overall about Arsenal the past couple of weeks.
Not angry, just irritated.
So irritated, in fact, that I’m finding it difficult to put into words. For this reason, there have been four games since I last wrote, so it’s probably best to start from the beginning to get to the root of my irritation….
Manchester City 1 Arsenal 0
Manchester City have struggled a bit so far this season, particularly by their standards. What they really needed was a win. It didn’t have to be pretty, just a win.
If only there were a team that had a habit of obliging such needs…
Seriously though, how many times have we said, only partly in jest “*insert team here* have been shit lately, watch us make them look like peak *whoever* at the weekend…”
I’m not sure it’s even partly in jest anymore, actually…seeing as IT ALWAYS F***ING HAPPENS.
Remember the old “Andy Carroll goal incoming!!” tweets and the like? Not even funny anymore, mate.
(We’ve got Leicester next in the league. I wonder if anything predictable will happen there….)
Let me get one thing straight, however, Arsenal are not the only source of my irritation, as was proved on the stroke of half-time.
What is it good for?
Say it again.
That high boot on Gabriel is given as a foul anywhere else on the pitch (especially if it were up the other end, you would have to assume.) The fact that the ref didn’t give it would be bad enough, but VAR giving it a look for about 3 seconds is something else. This is the same VAR that (hilariously, admittedly) denied Liverpool a winner in the Merseyside derby having judged that Sadio Mane had a stray bollock hair in an offside position in the build-up to Jordan Henderson’s goal.
This was of course after our defence had irritated me on 23 minutes. Leno irritatingly palming the ball into Sterling’s path, after some irritatingly shite defending.
The rest of the game was…. Well, you know the rest.
What was most irritating is that fact that we could most certainly have got more out of this game.
Our record against the “top teams” doesn’t even need mentioning, it’s been done to death, but I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling aggrieved by some of the decisions that have gone against us.
Indeed, Liverpool should have been down to ten men early on just a few weeks ago and, again, you don’t have to be some sort of conspiracy theorist, flat-earth weirdo to assume that gets given if it’s the other way round.
I’m not saying it’s only Arsenal that are effected either - there seems to be some kind of VAR “controversy” every single week at the moment – but a pube being given offside doesn’t irritate me at all if it isn’t an Arsenal pube.
Rapid Vienna 1 Arsenal 2
One of the good things about playing in Europe at this stage of the season is the opportunity to quickly get back on the horse and get rid of that feeling of irritation.
Arsenal being Arsenal did their best to make sure this wasn’t the case, with more irritating defending gifting the hosts the lead.
Still, a decent spell in the second half, including the two subs Bellerin and Aubameyang combining to put us into the lead, after David Luiz equalised was a welcome tonic.
Not the tidiest of wins, but a win nevertheless, and winning is good.
Seeing as this was likely to be our toughest game of the group, the performance wasn’t as important as getting the three points.
Mesut Ozil also produced his best performance of the season so far. On Twitter. At home. On his sofa with Gunnersaurus.
There was a minor uproar about this among the Arsenal online community, but personally I’m all for it. I don’t just want to see motivational “Ya Gunners Ya” bollocks either. No, I want Mes to go “full Arsenal Twitter.”
I’m sorry, but you can’t tell me you wouldn’t be even the slightest bit amused to see him tweeting “PLAY AUBAMEYANG IN THE MIDDLE FFS!” after Lacazette has huffed and puffed his way through the first half again.
Anyway, job done, Leicester next, what could possibly go wrong……
Arsenal 0 Leicester City 1
Well, well, well. As if things weren’t getting irritating enough!!!!!!
Our old mate VAR went and done us up like a kipper yet again, as Lacazette’s perfectly good goal was ruled out for an offside decision against Xhaka. An absolutely ridiculous decision, as was pretty much proved when you look at the replays (you know, the actual same f***ing replays that VAR are looking at) in my, and many others opinion.
Leicester’s game plan was clear from the start, but if that goal stood - as it should have - that early on in the game, then that game plan would have gone out of the window.
That said, we really should have done better with the chances we had, Lacazette in particular. Thank God they didn’t have Vardy on the bench to come on and catch us on the break, while Mustafi nodded off for a minute…
Arsenal 3 Dundalk 0
So, this was Dundalk’s first game in European competition on English soil for 38 years, apparently. We couldn’t…. could we?
No, of course not.
Even the most negative, miserable bastard of an Arsenal fan shouldn’t have been thinking otherwise either.
There’s nothing better than a nice, relaxed game like this to ease the irritation. Okay, it took us just over 40 minutes to make the “breakthrough”, but it was always going to come. If you took the time to go on Twitter and voice any kind of irritation or disapproval then, well, it’s no wonder you’re so uptight.
Eddie Nketiah put us 1-0 up, and the impressive Joe Willock doubled the lead minutes later. Game over.
Pepe’s superb strike early in the second half made it 3-0. Game even more over.
This was a night off for my irritation, and it was nice. It was nice because these days it’s quite easy to forget what it’s like to enjoy watching a game of football. For me, this kind of game is the football equivalent of mindfulness. A chance to simply focus on the game for 90 minutes without distraction (or irritation!)
With the schedule we have coming up, it was a welcome break!
So, there you have it, overall an irritating couple of weeks, but with a chance to relax before the challenging schedule that’s upon us.
A schedule that could very well end up being beyond irritating and bordering on downright f***ing annoying.
Still, it’s not exactly the end of the world is it?
The world, while not exactly ending, really is a shit place to be at the moment, so being irritated, annoyed, frustrated, perhaps even completely over-the-top batshit mental over 22 ridiculously overpaid men kicking a ball about isn’t actually a bad thing.
I watched the news on Thursday morning, and saw a nurse in Italy, kitted up in full PPE, in tears as she spoke of preparing to witness something she had already witnessed earlier this year, something that doesn’t even bear thinking about for most of us, as the second wave of Covid-19 starts to bite.
So yes, maybe being irritated about football isn’t such a bad thing. If nothing else, it can give you something to focus on, to take your mind off of what is a truly challenging time for all of us to live through.
If wanting to launch Lacazette and Mustafi into the clock end is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I’ll go to sleep content. Irritated but content.
United at Old Trafford next.
Let’s f***ing do this.
Up The Arsenal.