Arsenal fans – living more in hope than expectancy
We caught up with Arsenal fan Steve Comber from the Gunners’ blog View From N5 to get a feel for how it’s been for an Arsenal season ticket holder during the turbulent first few weeks of the season.
Well, let’s look at the facts…
– Our two league games so far have resulted in one point from a possible six, no goals scored, two conceded and three suspensions. In the Premier League, we’ve now won only two of our last thirteen games.
– We’ve just sold our best player for well under market value while several other senior players are leaving, have already gone or are agitating for move.
– To replace those who have departed, so far we’ve brought in a 19 year old right back from League One, an 18 year old attacking midfielder from the Championship and the only ‘experienced’ player to come in is Gervinho, a 25 year old forward who has no Premier League experience.
– There is an injury crisis of sorts which is highlighting the drastically thin nature of the squad – it’s not difficult to argue that it’s currently in worse shape than it ever has been under Wenger.
So, those are the facts – we know all of the above. But what is the feeling amongst the Arsenal faithful?
Well, including the unconvincing 1-0 win over Udinese in the Champions League Playoff, we’ve now had two games at the Emirates this season and I can honestly say it’s not been a very fun place to be.
I sit behind the goal in the North Bank Lower – one of the more vocal parts of the Emirates (yeah yeah, ha-ha). Our block is filled with veteran Gooners – those who remember standing on the terraces at Highbury before I was even born. In their time they’ve watched some truly terrible football from the Arsenal and therefore we’re generally a positive lot – we enjoy the football that the boys play under Wenger and believe with all our heart that trophies will return soon. However, even in our section I sense that the mood has changed. August optimism has definitely been replaced with a slight dread for what this season may hold. The relationship between the club and it’s core fans is definitely strained.
At the final whistle of Saturday’s home defeat against big spending Liverpool, a commendable and spirited performance from an inexperienced XI was met by a chorus of boos from a large section of the ground, including many of those around me. I didn’t partake, just as I decided not to join in the chant of “SPEND SOME F**KING MONEY” which started in our corner after we conceded the first goal, but I can fully understand where fans are coming from with this. The boos and the chants aren’t an attack on the players, as some media outlets would have you believe. It’s simply the only way the fans can vocalise their dissatisfaction with the way things seem to be going at the club.
I think the core issue between the fans and the club at the moment is that, while we’re seeing a very good squad get dismantled for very good profit, the cost of our season tickets, memberships and match day tickets has risen way above the rate of inflation. We’re essentially paying more for less.
I can sort of understand the level we’re at – it’s been a lot worse for us in the past and the super-rich clubs are massively skewing the transfer market – however I, like many others around me, really don’t appreciate having to pay more than anyone in Europe for the pleasure of watching this decline – especially when one of the key reasons we’re falling behind is underinvestment in the squad.
It’s absurd but, even though we’re still only in August, this next week or so has the potential to be season defining.
At the time of writing, we are mere days until the transfer window closes and there’s still no sign of the players we sorely need, namely – a commanding, experienced centre back, a quality holding midfielder to provide competition for Alex Song, a midfield playmaker to replace the craft we’ve lost via the departure of Cesc (and the imminent departure of Nasri) and, in an ideal world, a proper out-and-out goalscorer. Surely something has to happen in terms of players coming in, doesn’t it?! It speaks volumes that I’m living more in hope than expectancy.
On the field we take a slender 1-0 lead to a very impressive Udinese side tonight and then on Sunday our threadbare squad travel to Old Trafford – a game that quite frankly terrifies me (it puts me in mind of the time we went to Manchester with a severely patched up defence back in 2001 – we were humiliated 6-1).
If we sneak through in Italy, get a point in Manchester and sign a couple of quality players I think the fans may have reason to think positively about the season ahead. If there is any other outcome however – expect more turmoil at the Arsenal.
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