I tried to warn us. Southampton may be bottom of the league, but they’re a bogey team at the worst of times. When we went down 0-2 and again 1-3, too many of us gave in, threw in the towel, resorted to the old loser mentality of the last decade or so when fourth place and an occasional FA Cup were enough to sustain us. Thin gruel, that, and it’s understandable to a degree that such a mentality is hard to shake. Old habits die hard, but this is one that we have to put to the sword and fast. Too many of us left the stadium early. Too many of us started tweeting out absolute bollocks. Too many of us don’t get what it means to support this club.
Imagine some wacky, New Age folderol. Imagine that whatever energies you emit transmit themselves to the players on the pitch. Every grumble, every tweet, every epithet infects our players, sapping them of strength and sowing seeds of doubt. Think of it as the modern-day Chinese water torture whereby each single, solitary drip seems to have little to no effect, but the unceasing, relentless, remorseless drip…drip…drip… drip slowly drives the victim mad. It’s not just the dripping itself; it’s the anticipation of the next drip and the belief that the dripping will never, ever stop. If you found yourself tweeting or muttering or shouting about how it’s all over at any point before the full-time whistle, you may be guilty of having been one of those drips.
Don’t be a drip.
I’m not saying we should be handing out participation trophies or green ribbons and slapping players on the back, saying “I’m proud of you, buddy.” No. There are serious and pertinent questions to be asked if various players and of Arteta for numerous decisions. However, none of them read this blog (to my knowledge. Bukayo, if you’re here, please consider tweeting this out). Instead, I’m reaching to my dozen(s) of loyal readers and their friends and family members.
Imagine again that wacky, New Age folderol, only this time, each tweet or shout or epithet sends positive energy, confidence, inspiration, and more to our players. “Hook it directly to my veins,” you can hear them exclaim. Imagine it’s you whose vibing helps Trossard’s shot clip in under the bar instead of over it; that Vieira puts his boots through his chance rather than dinking it; that Hooper awards any of the three or four penalty shouts we had. Imagine that feeling, knowing that you infused any one of our players with that extra ounce of juju, that extra dash of determination, whatever it is that our boys need when they need us most.
With twenty minutes to play, fans were leaving early. Fans—who presumably spent a few quid on their tickets—left early. Whatever is happening on Twitter, our players don’t see that. They can see fans leaving. Look, at one level, I get it. It was getting late; the match didn’t end until after 10pm, and Saturday isn’t a day off for everyone. I’ll admit, it wasn’t looking good with three minutes left. Those of you who brought small children or who had to clock in on Saturday morning, you get a pass.
The rest of you, screw your courage to the sticking spot. Roll up your shirt sleeves. Put your noses to the grinding stone. Yell and shout and chant; bay and scream and caterwaul; stomp your feet and clap your hands and raise your voices to the heavens. It was too quiet for too long today. Arteta called for the Emirates to be electric, and it was, at times—in response to events. Those of us who get to attend matches have to think more about causing or at least inspiring events.
Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing as we’ve dropped points away. Have we bottled it? Were we overconfident? Do we miss Saliba? One other factor we haven’t discussed, because it didn’t really apply to the draws to West Ham or Liverpool, is how our fans respond to conceding goals. Throughout this season, one of the hallmarks and highlights has been how fierce, how vociferous, how vengeful our response has been to going behind. Make no mistake. How we as fans, especially those in the stands, respond to setbacks affects the players. They feed off of us. They draw energy from us.
I know that the last three results have been disappointing. They’ve done a lot of damage to the players’ confidence and to our chances at winning the Prem. Re-read those last six words. We have a chance at winning the Prem. We still have a chance. No one was ever going to hand it to us, least of all Man City. All of us, then, not just those who get to attend matches, have to take a long, deep breath (do that now; don’t just read it). Take a long, deep breath. Close your eyes. Tilt your head back. Clench your fists. Thrust your chest forward. Put every last ounce of energy into shouting “GOONERRRRRRRRRRRRS!!!”
Just make sure your wife isn’t holding a skittish cat when you do. I speak from experience.
There is still a title to win. Get busy supporting, or get busy complaining.
I want to believe but we’ve now dropped six points from three matches we should of won. Liverpool I could maybe accept but we were up 0-2. West Ham and now Southampton, at home? Stick a fork in us. We’re done. Fat lady’s warming up.
Joh on. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, or have you never heard that saying? We can still win this, it just got a lot harder than it was a few weeks ago. Like Jon says, don’t give up.
Uplifting post. I was at the game and sang myself hoarse. Hugely disappointed but also proud of the comeback. Oil fuelled City are favourites now but we’ll push them to the end. Win or lose we back the team. Fans who only support us when we win can go and support City next season! COYG
Well-said, AI. I hope your vocal cords recover. A pint or two should do it.
4 to 6 points lost. Who is to blame or who is at fault? I know I wrote that the City match might not define or determine the season or top of the PL, but I never expected this, certainly not the last two. We can blame it on injuries, but those should equal out unless they occur when players are worn out and more susceptible to getting hurt. Has the pressure finally hit home? Did Ramsdale try to emulate DeGea or just lose focus when it was needed most? Is this a sign of a young squad lacking maturity more than just depth? Do they need a manager who recognizes the situation and how to deal with adversity, pressure, and the like?
Thankfully, we should still be safely into the CL and that means money and a choice of better players. Hopefully, ownership will spend even more and make us more competitive, but will the opportunity present itself again. The well-endowed clubs may get better and sometime you only get one chance at things. Will we come to rue the prize that got away?
I realize I see depressed, not just about today, regardless of the comeback, but about these three weeks and a few of those matches earlier this same year. Nevertheless, the City squad with its scoring machine seems unstoppable, especially now that we have made it easier for them. Ah, well, one year ago one might never have imagined being on top at this point and maybe we should savor that.
Plenty of blame to go around, to be fair. I know that I’m frequently guilty of an almost Panglossian optimism, but a draw at the Etihad puts us back in the driver’s seat. We have just these six matches left. City have the FA Cup (they’ll presumably get past Sheffield United today) and the Champions League in which they’ve drawn Real Madrid, which is sure to be a dogfight. It’s frustrating to feel like we no longer fully control our destiny after these three draws, and maybe we’ll end up consoling ourselves with the idea that we’ll qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal (the team) can prove their worthiness as Premier League leaders by going to The Etihad and actually winning the game, and shoving that “bottling” back up the ar$es of Arsenal (the fans).
I think most of the negativity comes from supporters who weren’t even alive in 1989. The title was won with almost the last kick of the last game of the season. Everyone outside of Arsenal wrote us off – after all, teams don’t go to Anfield and expect to WIN, do they? I can remember in the commentary David Pleat, at 88 minutes or so, said that it was fitting that Arsenal got the result on the night, having been ahead for so long in the title race, but the title belonged to Liverpool.
He was wrong.
It’s not over until it’s over, when it’s mathematically not possible for the leading team to be overtaken. The fat lady hasn’t even started warming up her tonsils yet, and I bet Michael Thomas still believes.
Solid memory, Stuart. The sense I frequently get is that the Invincibles gave rise to a new generation of fans (understandably) who assumed that it would always be like that or at least similar. More recently, younger fans have apparently “chosen” Arsenal because it’s the first name listed when they start playing FIFA–and, let’s admit, it’s a much more interesting name than, say, Chelsea. In the end, though, few of them have experienced where this club came from and what life was like as a fan in the 70s and 80s.
There are still matches to be played, but the fat lady is perhaps applying her makeup.
I remember some years back watching on TV a cup game against Reading, when they took a four goal lead and dozens of our fans were leaving at half time, only to listen on their car radios, as they motored back down the M4, to us score three, equalise (Theo again) with the last kick of added time, and then go on and win the game 5-7 in extra time.
I was at Highbury when we completed a rare double over United with two very, very Henry goals after trailing 0-1, and again many of our supporters were not there to see it, having left, but couldn’t miss the ecstatic cheers as they walked miserably home.
Can’t understand that with ticket prices as they now are, supporters leaving early. Madness.
Good memories there, Jax. We came close to adding another one to the list on Saturday. It’s a shame we fell short, but the fight we showed offers evidence for optimism…