Match day, boy do we need a win today. The past week has been nothing short of depressing; two defeats in a week do not bode well for morale. The fan frustrations have been heightened and I suppose the timing of the AGM this week couldn’t have been timed better to let the people in the know get an indication of how feelings about the club are felt by the majority of the fans.
The funny thing about football is it is a sport for the now, whatever happened two weeks ago gets long forgotten and replaced with whatever happened now. Where a few weeks ago we were pulling off great results and moving up the table, the frustrations were at a minimum. If the AGM happened back then the meeting would have passed with little fuss and certain issues would have been overlooked because of the feel good factor.
The fact that we lost a couple of games in a week the undertones transmitting from fans are at the opposite end of the scale. Every aspect of the club gets looked at and all the progress at the start of the season is long forgotten, replaced with all the reasons we have not won anything for 7 years.
With queens park rangers the next opponents at the Emirates today anything but a convincing win will do for now. The game today will be a real test for the players; they know the fans are not happy right now. They of course are not content with losing games, they know the arsenal faithful expect and today the support will be border line. Of course the fans are behind the team and want them to win but on the back of two defeats in a week it is guaranteed that every misplaced pass will be met with groans of dissatisfaction. The groans will be louder than usual and it is hoped this does not affect the performance of the players too much.
I’m slightly worried that there could be a scapegoat today if things don’t go to plan. Players in danger of the brunt of fans frustrations could well be Gervinho, Andre Santos and Vito Mannone.
Many fans are divided on the influence of Gervinho in a central role; the problem for the forward is that even when he was scoring in that position many still didn’t think he looked the part. It was inevitable that as soon as he doesn’t score he will receive a backlash. The biggest problem I suppose was the fact that as soon as he looked to start scoring regularly in that position he was moved back to the wide position he usually occupies. Many players need a run of games to find their form and Gervinho’s run of form halted when he was shifted back wide at the expense of Olivier Giroud; he hasn’t quite hit top form back out wide. The fact that Arsene is swapping around the central striking position isn’t benefiting the Ivorian or the Frenchman at the moment.
Giroud still has the patience of the fans since he is new to the team and still acclimatizing to the premiership, Gervinho doesn’t have that luxury after a season already under the belt at the arsenal. He really needs a good performance to reassure fans and possibly recreate that level of appreciation he felt when receiving a standing ovation when coming off in the game against Southampton last month. The timing of his latest article on the arsenal website is probably a couple of weeks too late.
Andre Santos has returned to first team duties due to the injury to Keiran Gibbs and so far his performances have not gone down well with the fans and pundits so far. On Wednesday the Brazilian was caught out of position on too many occasions to be overlooked. He struggled at times facing Farfan and really did his chances of forcing Wenger’s hand when Gibbs returns no help at all. He will really need to up his game today to appease the fans. The problem is his best attributes are his attacking instincts but right now the defending needs a lot of attention, a more reserved performance focusing on protecting the left flank will go a long way to changing the views on him.
Vito Mannone’s goalkeeping has been under the spotlight of late, many believe his mistake led to the goal last week against Norwich. In midweek he couldn’t have done much to prevent the Shalke goals but he did have a questionable penalty appeal which luckily went in his favour. Right now the fans see him as nothing more than the third choice keeper, when we were winning his limitations were overlooked in the knowledge that he is merely keeping the position warm for our polish number one. Now that things aren’t going to well his faults are highlighted much more. I mean I do recall his tendency to parry the ball back into danger area and last week was no one-off; it’s just that we have been lucky enough to have an arsenal boot first to the rebound in earlier games. Hopefully this will be worked on at the training ground because he has good enough reflexes to reach the shots in the first place he just needs to get it away from the danger zone. Right now he is our only option and requires our full support. I believe the fans understand this and will most probably hold back on the criticism however any major gaffs today will not save him for too long.
It seems quite a while since our last premiership home game and summer seems to have fully handed over to autumn since my last game. We will need a good win to warm the fans today, the cold weather is likely to make us grumpy and I’m praying for an early goal. I definitely don’t want to see any players singled out today, I was there the day Eboue got booed and was not proud of what I witnessed. It is the last thing we want to see even if it would send a reminder to Silent Stan and the board. Arsenal fans are better than that so anyone else going to the game please give the guys 100% support no matter what happens.
In other news it looks like the teams association with Nike will come to an end when the current deal runs out. Our kit deal with Nike which comes to an end in 2014 will not be renewed and it seems that there will be an imminent announcement that Adidas will be returning as our kit makers. The positive thing about the deal is that we can now command the kind of money that our rivals are pulling in from their deals. It has been mooted that we will be earning £25m a year compared to the £13m we currently receive; whether that goes towards team investment is another story.
As we know the adidas/arsenal partnership is one that old school fans remember fondly, we’ve had some good and some bad kits. Hopefully the partnership can lead to some of the more fondly remembered retro kits being manufactured just like the old kits. Seeing fans with the old ’89 kits minus an adidas badge seem incomplete to me. I still own a few old shirts with the JVC and badges half fallen off but they still feel more complete for having the adidas badge. I welcome the deal for financial and nostalgic reasons; I just wish we didn’t have to share the brand with all that is wrong about a team like Chelsea.
Enjoy your day people.
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