Every Silver lining…

Just like Cesc Fabregas coaxes a pinpoint pass to one of his teammates, finding the cloud to yesterdays silver lining is not difficult. In a match where the result, goal-scorer and attitude of the team were all exemplary, I felt peeved when leaving the Emirates as to why I was not wholeheartedly delighted with a 3-0 victory. Since, I have deduced quite a few more reasons to this despondency than I had anticipated.

Going in to the game, Wenger suggested any victory would be an excellent result, and I could not agree with him more. At this stage in the season, and noting our precarious position at the boundaries of success, a win is all we can hope for from each game, opposition regardless. Nevertheless, entering the break, I had that same feeling of repressed ecstasy I get from most first halves despite being 1-0 up. Chance after chance after chance came our way in that opening 45 minutes, and when I say chance, I mean SITTER of a chance. All but one were missed, and rather than 1-0 being the half-time score, a leverage of perhaps 6 or 7 should have existed. In the aftermath, Wigan’s keeper Ali Al-Habsi was lauded with praise from both managers, yet frankly, I struggle to recall one excellent save he made. If we tediously take a look at each chance, we will come to such a conclusion. Walcott’s blunder- no save necessary; Van Persie’s right foot- straight at Habsi’s hand; Cesc’s toepoke- again, directly at the keeper; Sammy’s two efforts- neither in the corner and comfortably saved. Apologies to any glaring chances if I have missed you, and there are bound to be a couple, but frankly that first half of fruitless bombardment upon the Wigan goal has since become a blur of frustration. Against a slightly better team than Wigan, i.e Leeds or Ipswich, we would have been punished for our outstanding profligacy. Although it is slightly comforting that we avoided the second half stagnation that has become an unwelcome feature of our home form, the fact that an unmistakable feeling of agitation could be sensed among the fans during the first 10 minutes of the second half concerns me. Thankfully, Cesc Fabregas was absolutely World Class yesterday, and his double act with Van Persie helped avoid the crime which would have been the dropping of any points.

A second bug-bear regarding yesterday’s encounter is regarding some of the morons sitting around me. The regulars who sit around me, are, to a man, delightful people. Having sat now in my same seat for what is approaching its fifth year, I have become accustomed to this merry bunch and have made one or two good, half-time chatting and Bendtner lamenting buddies. However, some come from the outskirts of London and thus aren’t able to attend the odd fixture. In this unlikely case, the seats around me are filled with unknowns, anomalies. More often than not, this is an unwelcome scenario, and in yesterday’s case, infuriating. Although sitting near me probably isn’t the most relaxing experience, what with my awful pitch regulation, pessimism and unrelenting nervousness, I like to think my football opinions are well-informed and educated . As for a certain bunch sitting in my proximity yesterday, a barrage of ridiculous moans, groans and bemoans were all I could hear for 90 minutes. These were triggered by the apparently heinous crimes of passing the ball backwards, not immediately passing to Theo or taking more than two touches when in possession. As expected, when Andrei Arshavin entered the fray, this collective group of fools jumped on the bandwagon and rode merrily off into the distance.

Although it goes without saying Arshavin is currently going through a bad patch of form, he is undoubtedly an excellent player. Gee, scoring 4 goals at Anfield doesn’t happen to too many people, and even without that, we all know how his game works. 89 minutes of failed flicks, mistimed passes and defensive laziness will be instantaneously overshadowed by one or two moments of brilliance. There are countless examples of this, but to name a few from this season alone, away fixtures against Villa, Spurs and Wigan saw Arshavin overshadow an average performance with 3 goals and 3 assists. In recent weeks it has pained me to hear the criticism of our enigmatic Russian, and whilst imbeciles have felt compelled to boo his arrival or departure from the field, the more educated and well-respected voices in the Gooner world, i.e  Arseblog and Mr. Wenger, have stuck by him. Unsurprisingly, the mob behind me booed Arshavin’s arrival yesterday, leaving me on the verge of finding a different seat in the ground for the final few moments. It is this sort of behaviour which leaves most fans apoplectic. Booing your own team or players, has never, and will never gain any rewards. It is an unacceptable and self-debilitating response to events on the pitch, period. It leaves me absolutely bemused as to how a certain group of fans feel they should logically sing and applaud for Emmanuel Eboue, and boo Arshavin. A contrast between the two players ability is even too much for Mr. Chalk and Mrs. Cheese. And when monotonous moans of ‘Arshaaaaviiin, oohhhhh you’re rubbish’ can be heard after a miscontrolled aerial ball, I think I have it heard it all.

The one positive that came from the presence of this select group was, well, their presence. Looking around at the glorious stadium that, despite it’s familiarity being akin to my back garden, never fails to take my breath away, I was disappointed to see a plethora of empty seats. This was confirmed on Match Of The Day where they were even more visible. Frankly, if football clubs are going to charge extortionate amounts of money to watch your team, they should do so only if it is having a subsequent beneficial impact on the club as a whole. Financially, it undoubtedly is, yet in terms of attendance and atmosphere at the less glamorous fixtures, it is having a detrimental affect on our progress. Its not so much the atmosphere anymore, because it does have its moments, and having witnessed similarly library-like atmospherics at Old Trafford, Upton and Goodison Park this season, I have come to expect less from our home support. (A home support which, incidentally, is bailed out every fortnight by our unbelievable and very vocal away following) Yet the empty seats do annoy me, and although the official attendance was no more than 1,000 underneath the maximum yesterday, this is clearly a miscalculation based on the assumed attendance of all season-ticket holders. Whilst trying not to sound like a falsely hopeful romantic, I say lower the ticket prices, bring football back to the masses and those who really care. Would a terraced Highbury show bare slabs of concrete in the height of a title challenge, I very much doubt it.

Rant officially over.

Come on you Gunners.


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