Already I’m bored by the stat that we are the only team who has not yet conceded a goal in all the four divisions of English football. For a start everyone below the Premier League has played four games, so they’ve had an extra chance to concede. I don’t know whether any hadn’t conceded after three, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s not that unusual for a team to go three games without conceding, so it hardly seems worth shouting about. Secondly, Chelsea have conceded two, but I’d much rather be in their position. And thirdly, this is just another ridiculous use of stats in football for a wholly inappropriate purpose. If we go ten games without conceding that will be worth talking about. If we were winning every game without conceding, that would be worth talking about.
But three games, two of which were draws against sides that are never, repeat NEVER likely to win the Premier League, and a win against a team that’s also never likely to win the Premier League, well, it’s not the Invincibles yet, is it? I bet if you pick any random three game stretch from any part of last season there will be at least one team that hasn’t conceded during it, which I’m sure a few of the relevant team’s fans noticed at the time without tweeting it to all and sundry.
Of course I realise that just by pointing this out I will be called ‘negative’ and ‘depressing’ and all kinds of other ridiculous epithets. Well sorry, but I have higher expectations than to think that a mere three games in a row without a goal against is anything other than a quirk of the fixture list, and to paint Steve Bould as the saviour of Arsenal on the basis of three games is plain daft. I’m sure Bould is doing great work, but really, we need to look a little bit wider than just three games before we leap to conclusions. This is one thing the Arsenal Board are always better at than a lot of fans: no knee-jerk reactions from them, no deciding on the basis of a couple of games that everything is either great or crap; they, like Arsène, takes a look at the bigger picture, and all fans should do the same. (Cue more mindless abuse for pointing that out.)
I got a small taste yesterday of how some journalists must feel. I wrote what I thought were a few fairly well balanced thoughts about Liverpool v Arsenal, and while quite a few people agreed with me that it was daft to get carried away just yet, mistakes were still being made, we weren’t exactly up against the cream of the league yet etc etc, a number of others had a go for because I was not full of unreserved (and indeed undeserved) praise for everyone in the famous purple and black at Anfield. It’s probably the same sort of people who have a go at journalists for pointing out Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in seven years, but never point out that Spurs haven’t won the League since the dark ages, or never point out that Fulham have won the square root of sod all for their entire existence. Expectations, people! They are different for different clubs.
I expect Arsenal to be at least challenging for the title each year, because of the resources they have. I don’t expect to win it each year, but I do expect to challenge. Man Utd fans – the ones with any commonsense – no doubt feel the same. Liverpool fans used to; they may not quite so much any more. Chelsea and Man City fans do, but I’m hoping they get a shock with FFP.
It’s useful to note why we are in this position, with this level of expectations – sitting at the top table of English football. It’s the result of a set of circumstances that can be traced back to Henry Norris and Herbert Chapman: since they were in charge Arsenal have been a big, well-supported club. Not only that, but we are fortunate to be in London, the money magnet capital, and we had a Board who saw the need for a new stadium and did something about it before it was too late.
Sadly that Board – Fiszman and Dein, basically – are now gone and we’re left with a bumbling Chairman, a silent owner and a CEO stuck in the middle with no power. Not to mention a great manager whose motives and motivations seem to have become increasingly obscure and opaque. We’re also presented with transfer window profits and expected to believe that everyone at Arsenal really wanted to spend that pile of cash they’re sitting on, but it simply wasn’t possible.
I seem to have wandered off my original point on the three games without conceding – or have I? I guess it’s all about expectations and where those expectations have come from. I know what my expectations of Arsenal are and I know why they’re at that level. That doesn’t make me negative, miserable or depressing. What are your expectations?
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