Written by ArseChicago
It’s surely somewhat paradoxical, but I feel the only way us Gooners are going to stop thinking so much about football is to actually watch it. What separates us humans from the other animals (and those unfortunate sub-human Spurs supporters) is the ability to think about such a wide variety of things that may or may not be troubling us. Thinking about mortality. Thinking about Cesc and his DNA. Thinking about buying Koscielny a round of protein shakes.
What do you get when you mix together several weeks of relatively idle time, about a hundred Arsenal blogs, laughable newspaper fiction, a gaping hole at centre back, and a mercurial, fussy manager sitting on a pile of cash? What you get is an Arsenal fan base thinking. And an Arsenal fan base thinking is an Arsenal fan base in pain (or at the very least, mild discomfort).
I’ve been a full-fledged Arsenal supporter now going into my sixth year, never really missing a match (even watching the taped Stoke match and the Ramsey incident late the afternoon the day I got married this year), and I probably can’t tell you all the interesting things I’ve learned about football. The transfer window and how teams are always contemplating a “shock swoop” or “raid” of a certain player. Holy shite, the diving (Rooney, you c&nt). And, damn, Sam Allardyce, are we sure it wasn’t you that had Princess Leia tied up in ‘Jedi’? And then there’s the Arsenal. I’ve learned that Wenger is stubborn and really likes his players to fit in the overhead compartments of airplanes. I’ve learned that the media and the referees do in fact have a bias against the club. And I’ve learned that we are in fact blessed with some of the most beautiful football on the planet on a weekly basis.
But the other thing I’ve come to learn, and something that’s really manifested itself to me this offseason, is that us Gooners are a hopelessly cerebral, smart, and over-thinking bunch (Highbury Library, anyone?). Are the blogs and the comment posters like myself on the blogs a fair representation of the Arsenal fan population? Because if so, the lot of us have gotten a wicked case of the mental blue balls this offseason, with no big Wenger spending spree to relieve us.
I follow a few of my cursed local teams here in Chicago, none as closely as our beloved club mind you, and I must say that nothing here compares to the passion and knowledge of this fan base and how impacted on a deeply emotional and intellectual level we are about our depth at centre back. Is that why it seems sort of quiet at the Emirates at times? Everyone’s thinking about stuff?
I’ve been reading the Arsenal blogs for some years now, some I like, some not so much. Some extreme, some benign. But this offseason in particular, I think we’ve started to go a bit overboard. Blame it on Barcelona, or Wenger’s frugality, or Capello’s squad not being cuddly and lovable on any level, but we’re spending too much time thinking about the squad this offseason. We all seem a bit disoriented (probably ever since Wigan), a little powerless, very frustrated from the near misses over the last few years. And we all seem to be thinking harder than ever as to how we can alleviate these feelings. Mostly, we can’t stop thinking and talking about what we don’t have.
I’m here to kindly suggest we start embracing what we do have here, and it’s not something I’ve been consistent in doing. It’s not a feeling resignation, but more of a happy abandon. We’ll need some luck, sure, but anyone winning the title will have enjoyed a material amount of luck along the way. There’s still a tremendous amount of hope and the bookies don’t vehemently disagree at 7-1 odds for our boys. And what should give us hope? Actually watching the game we spend so much time thinking about. Did any of you feel the excitement, the pride, a touch of optimism last weekend as the fantastic red and white, under the unusually blue sky, glided artfully across the perfect green pitch? Watching Jack almost nail one out of mid-air from outside the box? Watching Frimpong be a human pinball? Seeing Nasri look like a completely new man? Vela doing what we’ve always hoped? Chamakh and his powerful ballet?
If you spent any significant time whilst watching these matches this past weekend thinking about Cesc or Mertesacker or Schwarzer, then you’re not doing a good enough job watching. We’re just about here. No more thinking about it. Just doing. Win or lose against Liverpool, with or without Cesc, having 2, 3 or 7 centre backs on the team. It’ll just feel good to feel drained after a match again. Too tired to think.