So, it’s only week nine and already we have a “must win” game. 

Considering how I felt this latest international break was a timely one, the chance to have a couple of weeks off after that disastrous Villa game, it would appear that the boredom of the international break has got me strangely excited for this game.

Strangely, because “must win” games are not supposed to be a source of excitement. You’re supposed to watch them from behind the sofa clinging onto arse for dear life. 2020 continues to surprise! 

Leeds United 0 Arsenal 0

I watched this game on a stream that had the strange sensation of being able to hear both the fake crowd noise and the players and coaching staff shouting. 

It was tripping me out a bit, to be honest, as it had been a bit of a heavy weekend. Eventually, however, the Moretti began to help. Well, it did until I thought I had heard Peter Drury say that Pepe had the ball taken neatly off his toe by cock…. 

Unfortunately, you could hear Anthony Taylor as well. He sounds exactly how you would imagine Anthony Taylor would sound.

The other thing that struck me during the opening exchanges were the quite frankly shocking barnets on display on some of the Leeds players.

Man buns are not, in my humble opinion, something that should exist. There should only be buns, and they should either be worn by women or on display in a bakers window.  

So, to summarise, what jumped out at me most from the first half were annoying voices and shit hair. I think that pretty much sums up Arsenal’s performance.

The Arsenal Social Media contingent were not happy at half time, with the general feeling being that we looked shitter than a bun on a man’s head, and it was hard to really argue with that feeling. 

Things only got worse in the second half when Pepe was sent off for a “headbutt” that was about as underwhelming as his Arsenal career thus far. Okay, Alioski went down as if he had been shot, but that’s going to happen nine times out of ten when you put your head in another players face, so if you’re going to do it, at least make it an actual headbutt and knock him out.

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In all seriousness just don’t do it, you f***ing idiot. 

After that, it was a case of being “happy” to get out of there with a point.

(As a side note, how pissed off would you be at Arsenal if we had battered a team down to ten men like that at home and only come away with a point?)

Fair play to Tierney for getting stuck into Alioski after the final whistle, only to be interrupted by Granit Xhaka, if you’re to believe everything you read on Twitter, making love to Alioski on the Elland Road pitch before Kieran could plant a proper Glaswegian kiss on him. 

Arteta was rightly furious with Pepe and made no secret of it in his post-match interview. Personally, I had no problem with this. One minute we’re moaning about managers mollycoddling the players, next we’re accusing Arteta of “throwing Pepe under the bus.” You can’t have it both ways! 

(Well, some people think they can, but I’ll get to that in just a minute….)

Pepe himself apologised, so it’s time to wipe our mouths and move on from it. Who knows, maybe this will be the kick up the arse he needs. Stranger things have happened.

Monday morning is a fairly dreadful place as it is, but Monday Morning Arsenal Social Media World is something a whole lot worse.

Some people seem to revel in it, though….

DISCLAIMER – THE FOLLOWING IS THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR. HE IS IN NO WAY SUGGESTING THAT THIS SHOULD ALSO BE YOUR OPINION. YOU’RE A GROWN UP, YOU CAN MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND….

Against Modern Football #1 – The Rise of the Anti-Fan

Football supporters have been moaning and complaining about the football club they support since the beginning of time. Whether it was in the pubs before or after the game, on the way in or out of the ground or, as was often the case for most of us, right in your f***ing earhole for ninety minutes, non-stop.

Miserable, moany, whinging, contradictory, hypocritical, reactionary.

This is all normal, natural behaviour for the football supporter.

If you’re a football supporter and have never been at least one of the above, then chances are you’re doing it all completely wrong.

The thing is, that bloke behind you back in the day, well, at least he went home. These days, they hang around all week!

Social media obviously has a lot to answer for as far as this goes. It’s one of the “in” things to appear “edgy” on social media. That TV program, film or band you like? Nah, it’s shit, mate. 

Transfer that to football and you have people looking for a negative from every single thing, rather than being content in the moment.

Look, mate, if that player you don’t like really is as shit as you say he is, he’ll do something shit eventually, then you can just call him shit. No need to jump on the poor fella when he’s just put in a man of the match performance, just so you can say “I told you he was shit”, when he does something shit in a few weeks. 

Now, I’m perfectly aware that you don’t have to read it, listen to it, or even acknowledge that any of it exists, but when you know it’s out there, sometimes it just seems unavoidable. 

I mean, come on, how many of you have had someone mention a certain fan TV channel to you when they find out you’re an Arsenal fan?

It’s hardly ever Arsenal fans that mention it either, is it? In fact, in my own experience, it’s quite often some complete bellend that doesn’t even follow football!

Call me old fashioned, but I remember as a kid defending the Arsenal to the hilt to anyone who wasn’t Arsenal. Whether it was right or wrong didn’t matter, it was all about being proud of being a fan of The Arsenal. 

A big part of that hasn’t left me. 

I don’t care if some pundit or other is right when they’re laying into us, I’m not going to agree with them without a fight.
For example, if Gary Lineker lays into us, he might be right but, first and foremost, he’s a jug-eared Tottenham crisp nonce.

That’s why I find myself being more wound up than I should be by these people that claim to be Arsenal fans. 

It’s difficult to explain, but I find myself defending The Arsenal to the hilt again with these people, even if I’m not exactly happy with the way things are at the club these days. It’s in my nature to be protective about my club.

It still makes me as sick as it always has done to see my club being ridiculed – again, rightly or wrongly - and it’s no different when it comes from people who claim to be Arsenal fans themselves. In some ways it’s actually worse. 

I think I’ve made this clear already, but I’m going to clarify it once more before I go any further, I feel the need to point out that I am in no way suggesting that anyone that criticises Arsenal is not an Arsenal fan – far from it. We’ve all done it because, as I said, it’s normal behaviour for a football supporter. I’m not suggesting you have to be some happy-clappy weirdo to be a “real fan.”

Anyway, now that’s cleared up (again), on we go….

I’m not sure the exact moment the “anti-fan” became a “thing.” 

I suppose the seeds sown during the “Wenger Wars” began to grow when people discovered stirring things up could be monetised but, although that’s undoubtedly a major contributing factor, to me there is more to it than that. It seems to have mutated to something way beyond that, as the hangers on and disciples join in to form this weird kind of sub-group of Arsenal “anti-fans.”

I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself well enough here, partly because I don’t really have the words for it, it’s more of a feeling than anything else. Perhaps you get it too, or perhaps it’s just me, I don’t know. 

The best way I can sum it up is this - If it gets to a point where you are so “anti” something – be it a player or players, the manager, whatever, that you cannot even bring yourself to celebrate a goal, a win or even winning a trophy in some cases, if you are so set on going out of your way to belittle anything even the slightest bit positive, because you care more about being “right” than anything else, then you have become the antithesis of a fan. 

The anti-fan. 

Or maybe they’re just all plain c**ts. 

Speaking of c**ts, there was a prime example of what I’m talking about doing the rounds this week, with that lot being top of the league (when’s the DVD coming out etc….) 

I like to think I generally do my best to emphasise that what you read here is simply the way I see things. You may agree or disagree with what I’ve said here regarding the “anti-fan.”

On the subject of that lot, however, there is no compromise. 

You NEVER, EVER praise them. You never praise them; nor even begrudgingly acknowledge anything they achieve. 

NEVER. 

They could win the treble every season for the next twenty years and I would be sitting here telling you they’re overrated. It would be nonsense, yes, but that’s just how it works.

If there is anything worse than going out of your way to criticise everything Arsenal do, it’s praising anything they do.

If you need an explanation as to why this is the case, well, there isn’t one. Neither does there need to be one, it’s just the way it is.

Come to think of it, if there were an explanation, and you needed it, you wouldn’t get one from me, because you would never understand it anyway.

That’s enough of that for now anyway. 

We have another game this week, and the chance to seal qualification from the group stage of the Europa League, away to Molde FK in Norway.

Amazingly, I find myself looking forward to the game again. 

I think it’s because the pressure’s off for me during these Europa League games.

Plus, when you’re on a bad run, you’re always hopeful that run will end! 

Molde FK 0 Arsenal 3

Despite the usual rumblings of online discontent, I saw some promise during the first half. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t standing arms aloft in the front room singing “We’ve Got Our Arsenal Back”, I was just happy that I’d seen more than one of those rarest of rarities – the lesser spotted attempt on goal!

This optimism proved to be well founded in the second half, as we put on just the kind of display we needed to see. Okay, it was only Molde FK but, well, so f**king what? If you want to see a performance of promise, you can’t choose who your opponents are.

I did one of those reactionary tweet things when Pepe was sent off on Sunday; something along the lines of “drop that reckless bounder!” 

Arteta decided to ignore the advice of @DB_HighburyAFC of Islington and picked him. Pepe’s display served as a timely reminder, if it were needed, as to why Mikel Arteta is manager of The Arsenal and @DB_HighburyAFC was sitting at home watching the game and eating pizza. 

Less than a minute after curling a superb effort onto the crossbar, Pepe got the goal his performance deserved to put us ahead. 

Not long after that, the impressive Nelson doubled our lead from Willock’s cross – a goal straight from Hale End!

The most pleasing moment of the evening came when the Arsenal Academy combined again, with Folarin Balogun – exciting prospect and Sun headline writers dream – scored his first senior goal within seconds of coming off of the bench, after being set up by Emile Smith Rowe. 

A lovely moment, to seal a great night for the Arsenal Academy and a most pleasing attacking display. Attacking display. Wasn’t sure I would ever speak those words again!

A big week next week, as Thursday’s game against Rapid Vienna at the Emirates sees the return of……drum roll…… supporters in the stadium!!!!!!!! 

After that, it’s all about one thing – the NLD.

Before all of that, we have Wolves at home on Sunday – another “must win game”!! Kicking off at 7.15pm on Sunday night. That’s gone really well lately….

Until next week, stay safe.

Up The Arsenal