Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0
West Ham 2 Manchester United 4
On Saturday I thought Arsenal would win by two goals.
Seeing the game as a 3-1 or maybe a 2-1, I backed BTS – both teams to score.
I was in Club Level and the stadium announcer’s deafening volume spoiled my day before it even started.
The announcer is at least 30% too loud. The volume is crass and vulgar and Amerikan. By filling the stadium with noize, he prevents the crowd making any noise, prevents them from creating the prevailing atmosphere.
Yes, I realised long ago that that Britain has become a nation of DJs and presenters and comedians but a stadium announcer is not a star , so he should behave accordingly.
Why is he so loud? It’s corporate and counter-productive. By filling a vacuum, he causes a vacuum.
Who allows the DJ to pump up the volume to fill a vacuum? Who is the DJ’s boss? The stadium manager, probably.
I find that decision fascinating and crucial, and, actually, fundamental to an understanding of what Arsenal FC now is, and how the company sees itself.
As you all know, even if you’re reading this in San Antonio or Lagos, an invisible man announces the Arsenal players one at a time by their Christian names, so the fans have to shout out their surnames, as if it’s a kids TV show.
That is silly and artificial and pathetic? Why do it? To involve the crowd?
Because by the time the players come out to start the game, the crowd have already been battered into submission by the DJ’s sound-barrage.
Is the stadium manager deaf? Does he not know that the PA is far too loud? Or does he keep it that loud to prevent chants, singing and participation?
Football is not a circus and the DJ is not a ringmaster. The use of technology has to be nuanced and appropriate. Otherwise, it’s dehumanising and ugly and totalitarian.
So that\’s my first point this morning .
The volume of the PA at the Emirates Stadium is totalitarian.
Where is that volume decision made? By whom? What is the rationale behind it? Is it accidental or cynical?
Having thought about it for two days, I think it’s cynical.
Clearly, the club knows that half their crowd are plastic Gooners who think football started on Sky in 1992.
The punters sitting around us, the people in the lounge at half-time and after the game, were mostly affluent proles who don’t really understand what they’re watching. The club know their demographic and tailor their presentation and marketing to that sector.
Team news was bad :Fabregas was on the bench.
Fabregas-Song-Wilshere is the only functioning unit in the Arsenal team, the only partnership.If you lose one of those three, Arsenal is nowhere as near as good.
If you lose your best player, and replace him with Nasri, a totally different kind of player, then you can’t and won’t play as fluently.
Here I was, about to watch second-in-the-table Arsenal play Blackburn, a team that had won only one of their last ten away games.
When Nasri crossed low into the goalmouth, Wilshere missed an early chance from six yards. If he’d scored then, Arsenal might have won 3-0.
Van Persie, as always, was too static, took too many touches, looked clumsy. Many people reckon he’s world class! One of my friends says, “He does my head in.”
Blackburn defended very well and might even have won if N’Zonzi had not been sent off for jumping two-footed into a 50-50 with Koscielny.
Ultimately, football is about players, about goals and goalscorers.
Manchester United, for all their many faults, could bring on Hernandez at half-time, then bring on Berbatov and Nani. United have spark, penetration, spirit, character, leadership.
Most crucially, United actually have the mental strength that Wenger’s been yammering on about for seven years.
Arsenal are often slick and pretty but rarely exciting. Their style of play is one-dimensional and, to me, quite boring to watch.
Theo Walcott is a dimwit, a dolt who has nothing but pace. Robin van Persie is the most overrated footballer in Europe. The crossing of Sagna is an ongoing embarrassment. And Clichy is even worse.
Typically, Clichy gets the ball off Almunia, sprints down the left wing, plays it inside, gets it back, hits a cross to defender, then runs back like a robot with a blank face. There\’s no apology, never an acknowledgement that he\’s wasted the cross. He’s the most robotic footballer I’ve ever seen
Arsenal can’t play without Fabregas?
That was as true on Saturday as it has been for the last five years. He came on for half an hour and was the best player on the pitch by a mile.
So where are we?
Top Four, where the board want Arsenal to be.
Once upon a time, Arsenal were mighty champions.
From 1996 to 2005, the team had a blend of power, experience, organisation, strong leadership , creative flair and pace. They peaked in 1998 and 2002 and 2004. After 2005, the team became cheaper and younger and won nothing.
Wenger has been great – and unique.
But he’s lost the plot and lost the crowd.
Thousands of ANR readers think this squad is mediocre. It’s an also-ran squad of guys who are now as good as they will ever be, with maybe three exceptions. But the players are very rich and pampered. Never in the history of football has failure been rewarded so often, and so generously. The players, or some of them, must occasionally wonder about that.
In May, we could be told that, â€œSecond is a trophy.â€
Although it might not be second, since the Spurs and Liverpool games will be much harder than this one.
I wasn’t being flippant or provocative when I said that Arsenal will win nothing more with this manager. I was being serious : I believe that with every atom of my body and soul.
The boos after Saturday’s fiasco suggest that more and more people now accept that Arsene doesn\’t know.
While the booing at the final whistle was louder than I expected, it wasn\’t very angry booing.
It wasn’t mutinous booing.
It was : I\’m- disappointed-again booing.
It was : We-don\’t-believe-in-this-team booing.
It was: Why-can\’t-you- can’t-beat-10 men booing.
Later on, before Match of the Day, I noticed my Arsenal programme on the sofa.
In Club Level, you get a free programme. The cover was David Rocastle and I remembered a tenacious gladiator. If the never-say-die Rocky had seen this ghastly draw, he would have wept with shame that his old team could perform in such a gutless manner.