Of all my seasons spent as an Arsenal fan, this has by far been the most exhausting. Every week seems to bring either some dazzling high or farcical low.
This week, however, Arsenal managed the extraordinary feet of producing both.
On the one hand we had the fantastically well-attended and vociferously-supported fan protest outside the Emirates; an occasion where a frustrated fanbase was able to vent its anger by the bucketful.
In so short a space of time, it has to be admired how many were able to mobilise, organise transport, and create banners. As a spectacle, it was exactly what we wanted as a fanbase, the message couldn’t have been clearer. There was a real feeling of unity and togetherness that has been so absent from the football experience of the last 18 months.
Capping all of that with a hard-earned win over Everton would at least have brought the week to a close on a better note after the lamentable idiocy of the European Super League that started it.
Alas, however, this team’s enduring ability to do stupid shit trumped all – with a sprinkling of VAR to help it along, of course.
Having played well against a decent Everton side for the majority of the match, Arsenal imploded in comedic and yet utterly predictable fashion late on. Faced with the simple task of collecting a miscued cross, Bernd Leno contrived to have the ball run slip though his grasp, cannon off his foot and deflect into his own net. It would be funny if it wasn’t so utterly tragic.
If that wasn’t enough, Mikel Arteta’s men had already been denied a (soft) penalty by the 3D lines of the jibbering fools running VAR – something else that has become laughably predictable this season to the point of conspiracy. ESPN is keeping a running tally of VAR decisions against every Premier League team this season. Needless to say, Arsenal are plum last in that particular table with a net score of minus seven.
It happens with such frequency now that scoring a goal is essentially a 50/50 for this team. Once the ball crosses the line, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will be allowed.
Having offered precious little in the game, Everton came away with a win. Just like Burnley, just like Fulham, just like Slavia Prague – all appalling football teams gifted goals, points, and lifelines in the last month.
That’s not to say this result had any real significance or bearing on our season because, in truth, it didn’t, our goose is already cooked in the league, but if only for the sake of some momentum or confidence, it would have been nice to bring a little stability to our game.
Instead, we were given more of the same chaotic nonsense which seems to follow this squad around like a bad smell.
All attention now turns to Thursday with the first of a two-leg showdown with Villareal that we dare not lose. Arteta must find a way to navigate through three more games in the Europa League that may just save this season and the future of this club.
If he can hold at bay the worst instincts of an Arsenal side all-too-ready and willing to push the self-destruct button, he has a chance but, make no mistake, we can’t count on any help from anywhere else – we have to do this all ourselves. And if that doesn’t make you weary, nothing will!