Rant and Reason: Drawing Leicester, Signing Welbeck

quinnboslice-120Preamble: I pay a lot of attention to the views of Arsenal supporters. Far too often, less-than-rosy opinions are belittled and/or dismissed by those who excrete eternal sunshine. (My hypothesis is that these are probably the same people who enjoy conversing with other human beings before noon.) Remember, the validity of an opinion does not depend on how many people will high-five you after you express it. We’re all fans, here.

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.” – Peter De Vries, Reuben, Reuben

I started writing this article at precisely 12:57 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, August 31. Somewhere between punch-drunk and beer-drunk, I found myself sitting at my desk and writing bitter words about the one-all draw to Leicester. Reading back now, I’m quite glad that the original draft was never published. I was, at the time, Dionysus, the god of the irrational and of chaos (Greek mythology). I was spontaneity. I was emotion. The restraint and the discipline could come later, I thought. Ironically and unfortunately, this is a sentiment that new-boy Mathieu Debuchy seems to share. Banter.

As I sat there wrestling with an Arsenal-induced existential crises, a quotation from the film-version of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch came to mind:

“See, after a while, it all gets mixed up together in your head, and you can’t remember whether life’s shit because Arsenal are shit or the other way around.”

This time, I thought that it was definitely the former. I do have a decent head of hair and a week off, after all.

Not now, wise guy.

Not now, wise guy.

The performance was at once pathetic and apathetic. It seemed to be the manifestation of so many problems and served as evidence for any doomer who felt like saying, “I told you so.” At Leicester, we saw the continuation of some of Arsène Wenger’s current projects at the expense of two points. I do trust the boss, but I’m inclined to believe he experiences schadenfreude while exploring the limits of that trust. Yaya Sanogo was allowed to continue his development in the Premier League proper despite all of the signs suggesting he needs a loan. Mesut Özil was played on the left despite his preference for, and his tendency to excel in, the middle of the park. Calum Chambers was called upon once again, which meant that every fit, senior defensive player on our books was in the game at once. Note, I didn’t write “right-back.” I didn’t write “centre-back.” I didn’t write “defensive-midfielder.” He was the only substitute for all three positions (plus left-back, if you allow for some reshuffling with Nacho Monreal). In the end, we were lucky to limp away with a point.

I was in disbelief. How could we be so tepid? Without an answer, I put the article on ice and decided to keep an eye on our deadline day transfer activity. I knew Arsène Wenger would sign a defensive player, even if it was one who I had never signed in FIFA on my PlayStation 3. I knew he wouldn’t sign a striker. Evidently, I knew nothing.

Danny “Made of Manchester” Welbeck is officially a Gunner. It’s a signing that I could get on board with right away. He’s versatile, he’s taller than me, he has Premier League experience, he has scored goals before (sorry Yaya), and he is essentially Manchester United’s Jack Wilshere. As soon as #WelcomeWelbz was flooding my Twitter timeline, I was able to delete long paragraphs from my initial rant. It was time to be Apollo, the god of reason and the rational. It was time to show discipline. It was time to show restraint.

The Number 23, not featuring Jim Carrey or Andrey Arshavin.

The Number 23, not featuring Jim Carrey or Andrey Arshavin.

The transfer window slammed shut once the trucks carrying Falcao’s weekly wages passed through. What we have now, we must trust. The major question marks remain in the defensive third, where we are left with trademark-Wenger, knife’s edge fragility. Nacho Monreal is our second-choice left-back, and fourth-choice centre-back. Calum Chambers is our second-choice right-back, and third-choice centre-back. Flamini is our second-choice defensive-midfielder, and will even possibly have to put in a shift at full-back when the inevitable happens. It’s all a bit scary. Anyone who doesn’t question the sale of Thomas Vermaelen, or the failure to properly replace him, is what I would call an optimist. I’ve warned you about them.

What we need now is a string of good performances. We might be undefeated, but we have failed to impress domestically and in Europe. TSN’s Kristian Jack frequently stresses the importance of performances over results. He writes:

“Results are important in football, vital to be quite honest, but they will only go your way consistently if you play well. Occasionally there will be times you don’t play well and win and others when you do play well and lose, but how you perform consistently will let you know what you are in for in the long run.” (Full article here.)

Football is a sport of slim margins. If we were to take an honest, sober look in the mirror, we’d have no choice but to admit that we have benefited from those slim margins early in this campaign. Crystal Palace, Everton, and both matches against Beşiktaş fit into the “poor performance, good result” bin. Sunday, the failure to deliver a good performance against Leicester caught up with us. It’s time to gather some momentum, to perform, and to win.

Here’s to hoping the upward spiral begins at the Emirates against Manchester City.

That was enough level-headedness for my holidays. I’m going to go back to armchair-managing on Twitter. @quinnboslice_

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