Arsenal Diary: The Rise of Arsenal and the Fall of Tottenham Hotspur
Dear future Gooner,
In this my third entry, I want to advance the narrative—just a little—from where I left it. Weightier matters will follow in the next.
As I write this, the boo boys are silent, gone into hiding, and Arsenal have set a new Premier League record—the first team to register four straight wins from losing positions.
The first was against neighbors and rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, in their most recent derby, when Arsenal recovered from two early goals to equalize in the dying minutes of the first half and then scored three more goals in the second half to win the match.
Table courtesy of BBC Sport.
The upstarts were silenced, who, early in October, just six weeks (or thereabout) into the season, began a campaign about how they were now the best team in north London, and about how they'd win the title this time.
One could see why, and one couldn't blame them. This looked like their strongest team in ages, and the horizon looked bright. They could just descry the tip of mount Pisgah—the mountain of promise.
Ten points adrift a team traditionally considered inferior (think tribal partisanship) ahead of the derby, had some of our own fans—the boo boys—jumping with excitement like George Crabbe's Robert Boles, and it wasn't the case of going jeremiad either, it was Schadenfreude proper.
What made it pathetic, though, is that it was our own—supposed—fans who now gloried in our misfortune. Newcastle United, Liverpool, and Spurs, of course, were the new models of excellence and achievement.
Harry Redknapp was riding high on the wings of the eagle. Alan Pardew was the citadel of wisdom in all things transfer—why, he bought Papiss Cissé, and gave Newcastle the Ba twins.
Who could resist that?
At the height of Newcastle's rise, The Guardian had this collage of Demba Ba leading Newcastle through the European—or shall we say, Premiership—waters. See the original photo here.
Every other team's XI were the best; ours, dung.
All kinds of lists came out, usually with two columns. The one on the left of our players, with the word "dung" inked in in bright red, and the one on the right with players "out there" who could turn our fortunes around, bring a harvest of trophies.
Here, the ink was bright green.
It was an almighty din, and anyone who dared questioned the lists and the new models of excellent was labelled an AKB or a Spreadsheet monger or a passionless or other such labels calculated to be devastating.
A few such fans even went a step further and labelled Arsene Wenger the cancer at Arsenal, and for what reason?
Despite the recent travails of teams such as Scotland's Rangers and England's Portsmouth, and even clubs like Birmingham, who are dealing with varying kinds of financial problems, boo boys still don't care about fiscal prudence. To them that's Balance Sheet nonsense.
Arsene Wenger and members of the Arsenal board have refused to go the way of the world by spending freely and incurring debt.
As a matter of fact, the reason why the current class of players have been summarily dismissed by these fans is because its pedigree is perceived to be a rung or two below what stars are supposed to be.
They forced Andrei Arshavin to flee to Russia to escape the incessant mockery and abuse.
Of course, the folly of such action became evident very quickly when Arsenal had no viable option on the bench to sustain the momentum of their comeback against AC Milan in their Champions League duel at the Emirates, but that's another story for another entry.
Anyway, the guns were blazing away with rash abandon, and when Tottenham fired in two goals on that fateful derby day, the boo boys were ecstatic. Their wisdom had been validated; their prophecy was alive and kicking.
But faith, fate and Nike had other ideas.
The cancer at the club won the Premier League Manager of the Month award.
The dung team demolished AC Milan at the Emirates, even if eventually it did not qualify for the next round of the Champions League.
The team beat Liverpool at Anfield without even trying to, and when Newcastle visited the Emirates, this boo boys' model of excellence fell.
Arsenal have achieved better things this season than most of these supposed models of excellence. And the noteworthy thing here is that it has happened with significant less spending.
But the point, I want to stress in this entry is that despite this renaissance, it is not yet uhuru at the Grove.
Despite my title, Tottenham haven't fallen yet, and Arsenal haven't risen completely.
Ten games are left, as yet, to the campaign.
The first thing Arsenal must not allow to happen in the next couple of games is the widening of the gap between them and Spurs from a solitary point to four or three, neither must they allow Chelsea to gain ground on them.
This is not only so that the boo boys may not come out again, it is because the solitary promise that the season yet holds could easily crumble.
This can happen quite easily, and if it does, this will be a cue to the naysayers to come out yet again en masse.
But more importantly, it may represent defeat to common sense and responsibility, characteristics that are fundamental to Arsenal.
Arsenal stand for prudence and responsibility. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.
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