I’ve been told that Arsenal’s online community is vast. I’ve been told that Arsenal’s representation in mainstream football media is slanted. I’ve been told Arsenal’s defence is the best around, that our midfield is the most talented, that there are plenty of goals in this side. Then again, I’ve been told our defense is error-prone, our midfield lacks steel, and that Jerry’s Aunt Sue can bang in more goals than Giroud. I’ve been told a lot of things.
I haven’t been told anything Arsenal-related since about 20 minutes into Saturday’s walloping at Anfield, though. I haven’t read a single tweet, or a single word from the “eloquent” Jamie Carragher on Sky, or a single article on Arseblog. It’s not that I’ve lost some love for the Gunners – in fact, I can’t imagine this club has any fair-weather fans left – I just figure that to engage in the Arsenal discourse this week would be to willfully search for videos of people punting puppies. It’d be depressing. And, perhaps more importantly, I don’t need to be told what went wrong. It was plain to see.
You and I are probably alike. Considering the fact that you are reading this, you are a person who finds yourself reading about the Arsenal online. Moreover, you have opinions. You have ideas. You have opinions and ideas that are necessarily twisted and molded by the words of others. I concede that this is natural, that supporting a club is social. However, the defeat we suffered at the hands of such an insufferable bunch provides a great opportunity for us to take a step back and to think critically. What’s more, it provides a great opportunity for me to write about an idea I had some time ago.
What a joy it’d be, if we, we Gooners who are incapable of seeing the lads play in person, could watch the match with the sounds of the stadium and without the sounds of the commentary. I’d pay good money to never hear what Michael Owen has to say ever again. (This applies to any pundit who bludgeons you with a narrative while you’re trying to watch the match.) I’d also pay good money to watch a .GIF of John Terry falling down a flight of stairs instead of the punditry we’re shoveled at halftime. The closest I’ve come to this is the time that I watched a Capital One Cup match that was intended for a Spanish-speaking audience. The language barrier forced me to form opinions that were entirely my own. I’ve also watched a match or two on mute, but that approach leaves something to be desired. The point is, after watching a game without commentary, I could still scroll through Twitter, read blog posts, watch Soccer Central, but I could do so with already-formed opinions that often differed from those being presented to me.
Perhaps these ramblings would benefit from an example. I’m sure you are well aware that a discussion of who will win the league is often dismissive of us. We were top, and the discussion was (and still is), “will it be The Royal Blue Billionaire Playthings or The Sky Blue Billionaire Playthings?” Well, can we win the league? We’re certainly being told that we can’t. I’ve caught myself believing that we can’t. But, why can’t we? We’re there. We get to put eleven players on the field each week. We won the most points in 2013. We have spent less money, sure. Having more money gives a club the ability to buy bigger names, but bigger names are just players who have been talked up in the media in the same way that our inevitable demise has been talked up.
Supporting the Arsenal shouldn’t cease to be social. All I’m trying to suggest is that the more you get beat over the head with something, the harder it is to think. (Cool that works literally and figuratively!) Instead of regurgitating, “We need a DM!”, “X says Zonal marking is bad. He wears a suit. Zonal marking is bad!”, “We are Doomed!”, “Podolski is a useless troll!”, just watch. Watch and be surprised. Watch and learn.
Do I think we’ll beat United? Why? Why not? I have my answers. We’ll certainly lose if we play like we just did, at least. Don’t forget that their shortcomings have been mint for journalists too. And on the pitch, where football is actually played, they won’t try to play to the script. This weekend United finished the match with Rooney, he who shall not be named, Chicharito, Mata, and other attack-minded players on the pitch. Can we stop that? I encourage you to try to answer these questions. I encourage you to think for yourself.
I’d also like to use this article to broadcast that I am writing some fiction about supporting Arsenal from abroad. The central setting will be a pub not unlike the ones you wonderful Canadian Gunners gather in and support from. This short story is for a class, but I’m open to having it disseminated online. It’d be really cool if I could bounce ideas off of people, get some feedback, or even just get some people to read it. Contact me on Twitter (@quinnboslice_) if you want to get involved.Otherwise, just keep an eye out!