Last night (which was Saturday, I’m writing this during Scousers v Newcastle which is currently 0-1, enjoyably) I was in a nice restaurant with the lady, having a lovely time thank you very much. The problem was, whilst I was enjoying myself, I could sense that something was amiss. Something that just didn’t feel right. What was it though? The food? No, it was a good curry, and I was tucking in heartily. The company? No, no complaints there. The atmosphere and surroundings? Again, no. Apart from the woman with the bright pink mohawk, everyone seemed friendly, and the ambience of the place was good. So what the hell was bugging me?
(By the way, a sprinkler has just gone off at Anfield, soaking a load of Scousers. That is not funny and I would find it appalling if anyone laughed at that)
It was only after a bit of thinking that I realised exactly what it was that was making me feel a little sad, and without further ado here it is – Arsenal are terrible nowadays.
Because they are, aren’t they? Being the age that I am (I’m not going to tell you, but somewhere between 1-80 if you fancy a guess) my youth was highlighted by a few things – McDonalds, Renford Rejects and Hanson all being notable examples – but United v Arsenal being THE game was number one in that regard, and frankly it saddens me that that’s no longer the case. The names are like a who’s who, to be honest – Vieira, Henry, Pires, Seaman, Adams, Bergkamp etc – and whilst you didn’t like them, you knew that they were good. You knew that they were the opposition. Rivalries are fun, and United v Arsenal was a bucketload of fun.
So what’s happened? Of course, the Arsenal decline hasn’t happened overnight. They’ve been sliding for a while now, thanks to their habits of selling their best players every season, being catastrophic at the back and bottling it when it gets to March, but right now it feels that the gap between us and them is the widest it’s ever been since Wenger took over there.
(Ratboy just equalised by the way, 1-1)
The wide gap was perfectly illustrated yesterday, where we dispatched Arsenal 2-1 with sickening ease. In the past we’ve had crazy results against the Gooners, but they’ve always been forever laced with excuses. 6-1, Yorke hat-trick? Yes, but Stepanovs and Luzhny were playing. The 8-2? Lots of injuries, Djourou at the back, beginning of the season etc. The startling thing yesterday is that for Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger, there can be no excuses. Alright, they were missing their goalkeeper (I won’t insult the man by trying to spell his name) but Arsenal weren’t as weak as the 8-2, United didn’t play extraordinarily well, there wasn’t an early sending off that changed the game. Arsenal were just…bad.
(Finished 1-1, Newcastle will take that.)
And I don’t like them, but I think that’s bad for football. Arsenal have been usurped, both by their capital neighbours over at Stamford Bridge and our neighbours from across the city, two teams with bulging pockets yet empty souls. Is the rivalry with Chelsea as much fun as it was in “the old days” with Arsenal? Maybe I’m just getting old, and being nostalgic, but it doesn’t feel that way.
I miss Sol Campbell elbowing OGS in the face and then pretending he hadn’t. I miss Martin Keown. I miss people throwing pizza. I miss Arsenal, above all else. They’re just another team now, and I think that’s a shame.