I’ll keep this fairly short. Arsène Wenger is right when he says, as he always does, that fans and media overreact to a single defeat. You only need to see how the media change the title race from two contenders to four to three, to whatever they fancy after a single unexpected result. That much is true enough. But I’ve had enough of Arsène talking about how things will change, how the attitude will be different and how much it means to everyone at the club to put things right. I want to see action, and to be honest there was not a whole lot different against Swansea than there was against Chelsea, it’s just that Chelsea are a much better team.
What I want against Man City is for the team to play as though it means as much to them as it does to the fans who pay their wages. The fans don’t owe the team an atmosphere and they don’t owe unconditional support. Support for the club is not in question for any true fan, but support for the eleven on the pitch is conditional on them giving their all. If we’re expected to be a bit-part actor in the event then we should be paid, not the other way round. We don’t owe them, they owe us. They owe effort, determination, heart, passion.
Football is an unpredictable game, which is of course its beauty and the reason for its popularity. The game against Man City could go one of several ways: City could turn it on and win comfortably and convincingly, as they did at Old Trafford; Arsenal could dig in, sort out their recent defensive frailties and still get beaten but only by the odd goal; they could dig in harder and scrape a draw; or they could all play like their lives depended on it and win, maybe even by two or three. But if it doesn’t go well, I don’t want to see the effort go down on the pitch, but more than that I want to see some leadership from the bench. I want to see some direction, some positive action to rectify the situation. I don’t want to see a manager sitting with his arms folded looking, in his own words, “puzzled”, and just waiting for the 70th minute to make his pre-planned substitutions. If something isn’t working it’s up to him to try and fix it.
The worst result for Arsenal tomorrow is not losing, it’s surrendering, and I mean the players and the manager. If they don’t surrender, the fans won’t. If they do then it proves that all the talk since the hammering at Chelsea was just that: talk.
There are more important things in life than football, but as far as football goes I want Arsenal to succeed. I don’t care who’s in charge of Arsenal when they do it, I’ll be just as delighted if Arsène recaptures the glory days as if a new man comes in and orchestrates some silverware. Tomorrow is now a bigger test than Stamford Bridge last week. I can accept losing, but I can’t accept lack of heart on the pitch and lack of leadership on the touchline. If that’s what we get tomorrow then I fear the Arsène Wenger years are drawing to a sad end.