Friday, July 29, 2011

BLOG: How to Survive the 2011-12 Arsenal Season

by George Sedgwick of the Philly Gooners

The summer break for Arsenal is over.  The Emirates Cup is this weekend (who says we haven't won a trophy in recent years?) and the season begins shortly thereafter.  Don't forget the importance of those Champs League qualifiers, either.  And while I'd love to extol the virtues of our five new signings, all of whom are fast, strong, intelligent, and spectacular, but not at the very top of their career—that's coming up!—we don't actually have five signings to brag about.  Gervinho is one I've been wanting for a while, and young Carl looks fine for the future, Vela-esque chip in the wrong direction aside.  But where are our strong CB's?  Who will be the replacement, next year if not this, for Cesc, Nasri, or both?  Why not prepare for a departure by getting someone like Mata now instead of filling the gap when it opens?  Sigh, shake of head, kick of sand, etc.

So, with excitement and worry, we wait for the games to begin.  In that spirit, then, I have composed a short guide entitled How to Solve the Bipolarization of Washington in the Face of Upcoming Debtpocalypse

I have also written How to Survive the '11-'12 Arsenal Season, which is probably more relevant.

So, here you go.

First, to survive the forthcoming season, you should avoid all pundit predictions about the season as a whole, individual games, or possible transfers.  During the last campaign, I obsessively followed the BBC's match predictions, and it was the worst experience ever.  They'd forecast an Arsenal victory, and we wouldn't live up to it, or an Arsenal loss, and I'd get angry that we could be written off so easily.  Example:  Manchester United will have far too much for Arsenal.  Rooney is on form, and the United defense is the best in the league, which is much more than anyone can say about Arsenal's shoddy back line.  Arshavin and Walcott haven't performed well in recent weeks, and they are both quite short.  Arsenal 0 – Manchester United 2.   Actual result: Arsenal 1, Manchester 0, Nani -7.  So, avoid the extra dose of pressure.  Ignore predictions or take them with a planet-sized grain of salt.

Second, during set plays, go to the bathroom.  I'm not kidding.  For most of last season I hit the mens every time the ball went out for a corner at either end.  We aren't going to score on them, and we sure as heck let too many in.  Better to take a breather.  Drink lots of water and place yourself close to the TV, but in a good position to jump ship whenever Szczesny or Fabianski starts yelling about a two-man wall. 

Third, if at all possible—and I realize that this isn't feasible for many of you—go see the Arsenal live.  There's nothing like watching a match with thousands of like-minded Gunners.  You can truly understand the pace and physicality of the game.  You may develop a new appreciation for refereeing, too.  Plus, you can buy cool Arsenal loot and eat weird English bacon.  Also, and I mean this very sincerely, you should take advantage of Arsenal America, which is an excellent national supporters group for Gunners like you and me.  I talk to fans of other teams all they time, and many of them don't have a group like Arsenal America to be part of, or ArsenalReviewUSA to listen to and use as a resource.  When these other folks want tickets, they pay exorbitant sums to a tout (scalper) or just show up and hope things work out.  As a member of Arsenal America, I don't have that problem.  Once, with an Arsenal ticket in hand—I had paid face-value through Arsenal America—I asked a tout how much he wanted for a ticket to the match I was about to attend.  He laughed and suggested £250.  Awesome.  You can almost see Lil Wayne for that price. 

Fourth, to survive next season, avoid all talk of "Arsenal haven't won a trophy since blah blah blah."  Many teams haven’t, but that's not the issue.  Instead, realize that during a game, when RvP is taking a left-footed shot that curls into the corner, or when the Verminator is sizing up a long-ball headed his way, neither player is thinking about a so-called drought.  Both are in the moment, challenging the other team, locating teammates, and trying to focus.  That sort of negative talk is newsfodder, just fluff for ex-players to blather about.  Some of those announcers really do seem biased against the Gunners, and you shouldn't give in to their silliness.  Do I want a trophy?  Of course.  But that topic should not be the focus when Walcott is trying to break down an 11-man defense. 

Finally, for '11-'12, realize what we're up against: the spending of Man U and Man City, the behind-the-scenes shiftiness of Barcelona, the thugs of Stoke, Evra's awful comments, Sky Sports punditry, and the donkey teeth of Luis Suarez.  These are the enemy, and as such, they prove why it is great to support the Arsenal.

On the other hand—and far, far more importantly—consider what we have: the pace of Walcott, the inventiveness of Arshavin, the quickness of Gervinho, the drive of Wilshere, the awesome attitude of Szczeny, the reliability of Sagna, and RvP, who is simply badass.  These represent the Arsenal, the world's best football club, and are more than enough reason to be happy about Arsenal in 2011 and 2012. 

See you next season!

George Sedgwick is the branch manager of the Philly Gooners and, sadly, has submitted his last article of the summer. Arsenal Review USA would like to thank him very much for his contributions over the summer and pray that his survival guide does in fact do the trick next season...