The fall-out from our weekend defeat to Aston Villa has been an unedifying spectacle to say the least.
Fans turning on fans, seasoned bloggers sulking off, the Underminers* out in force.
I understand the frustration. We lost our opening game of the season for the first time in 13 years; we lost our opening game of the season at home for the first time in 20 years; our squad resembles something from The Walking Dead; we don’t have any shiny new players to get excited about…
But come on! Let’s keep some perspective.
We have lost one game – and we lost it because of an (at best) incompetent referee.
We were better than Villa for most of the match and had the chances to at least equalise even after we were down to 10 men and a goal behind. I have no doubt that if Koscielny had not been sent off we would have gone on to share the points or win.
Referee Taylor’s eagerness to give Koscielny a second yellow (for not touching an opponent, let’s remember) stinks like a week-old kipper and deserves further investigation. Not that it will happen.
But read the press and wander through the Arsenal blogosphere and you discover that actually, no: the result had nothing to do with the extraordinarily bad officiating. It was all to do with Arsenal not having brought in enough players so far this summer.
I happen to think we should have signed some reinforcements by now, but I don’t think that had much or anything to do with losing to Villa.
And at the very least I am prepared to write it off as a bad day – the sort of bad day that will also happen to Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and those darlings of the media, Toddling Potty-Smears at times during the season.
We play 38 league games in an EPL campaign, for a maximum of 114 points. Three of those points have now been flushed down the lavvy, but there are still 111 left to play for.
Talk of our season being over before it has begun is (while understandable) really a bit knee-jerk and emotional and supporters need to calm down and regain their sense of perspective. One headline on Newsnow (from a supposedly Arsenal supporting blog) scweamed: “Thanks Arsene, out of title race before it even started.” Seriously? After the first game of the season we’re out of the title race? Come on! Like no team has ever won the title after losing on the opening day.
Likewise, the idea that potential new signings will be deterred from joining us because we lost a single game while some of our rivals won their single games is far fetched.
The club itself certainly bears some of the blame for this atmosphere of irrational hysteria, as does the media, but we fans are not obliged to fall into line with such a discordant tune.
The players that managed an amazing run in the last 10 games of last season are still there. Referees won’t always be so biased against us (although they do line up in our oppositions’ colours more often than seems to happen to other clubs). Injuries will pass and we will win games.
We certainly need to strengthen the squad before the end of the transfer window if we are to have any chance of competing for trophies this season, but I am also confident that good players will be brought in (if they are not, I will be singing a different tune).
So, we can’t be happy about the Villa result, but we can keep our feet on the ground, take a chill pill, let the toys stay in the pram (insert metaphor-of-choice here) and, most of all, not despair. Better days are coming.
- “Underminers:” opposite of “Supporters.” See Post in archives from April 15th 2013 for a full description.