It seems as though games against Manchester United are becoming a ritualistic wake up call to Arsène Wenger and the board, that things need to change. It's like every once in a while on a dreary Sunday, Wayne Rooney pokes his ugly head into Arsène's kitchen. Must go something along the lines of: "We're gonna trounce ya come Sunday ya frogger!" "I see now reason not to believe in the quality of our players, and I do my best for signings and-" Yeah, yeah we know. The Arsenal way. Chalk up another loss then, yeah? As horrible an attempt at humor that is, there must be some psychological stimulant after a United game. It must click in Wenger's mind that no, in fact we aren't up to the standards of the Manchester pair, and we might need a bit of a rethink in order to have a shot at competing with teams that have more to spend, and less to lose.
At the beginning of the season, the Gunners were misfiring, and quite badly. With the lost of two of our best players, uncertainty internally and externally of the manager, and the usual chants of "Spend some @$@%! money!", things weren't exactly looking up. Our starting line up decimated with injuries, we faced the titans of Manchester, Fergie's henchmen. We were absolutely slaughtered in every way imaginable concerning a football pitch. Goal after goal because of inexperience, fear, and frankly, bad luck. Never before had we had a worse start to the season, and I couldn't see anyway out of such a dire situation.
Then a funny thing happened. We signed players. Splashed real cash on guys who can make a difference. Not just unheard of prospects from the Armoury broom cupboard, but experienced internationals. Mikel Arteta for 10m, Mertesacker for 6m, Santos for 6m, and a whopping 15m on Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. We began to win games, we got stronger and stronger every time we stepped out onto the pitch. The players began to gel and form a proper understanding of each other's game. Van Persie decided to hang up his injuries in the back of his mind and hit the form of his life. Our beloved club was restored to it's rightful place in the Top 4. Sure, we've stumbled along the way, but at one point, we had taken more points from our mirrored fixtures from the season before. We are very much back on track, and have a good chance at the FA Cup, and are still in the fight in the Champions' League.
Let me set you straight if you still don't get it. We're fine. We're out of the Top 4, yes, but look at our fixtures until the end of the season, then look at Sp*rs! We've got a real chance at finishing in the Top 4, and I fancy the Champions' League, I really do. Yes, all our full backs collapsed in a heap at the same time in a massive pool of muscular jelly, but that's okay.
How many teams can play their two best centre backs out of position and get away with it? Of course I'm talking about Bosscielny and the Verminator (I'll be using nicknames from now on, you know it's cooler), not the frankly awful Johan Djoker, who shouldn't be playing out of position.
To put it another way, we've got a fullback who came from playing the third tier of English football and was, for a short amount of time, holding his own against opponents that he should have no business even looking at, let alone defending single handedly (here's looking at you, Theo the brains!) We've signed an older, more experienced, and cheaper Cesc Fabregas. We've got a BFG, and a crazy Brazilian. Sure, we've had our falls, but you can't tell me that our squad of old would have been doing any better.
I'm not saying to sweep our problems under the rug, fans have every right to address them. What we should understand though, is that clubs have suffered worse and come out fine. We're not in crisis, and hopefully never will be. Up the Arse(nal) of anyone who thinks otherwise.
Written by Anders Marshall
Follow him on Twitter @MarshallArsenal
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