How did we come to this point?
I wish I knew. Do you know? If you do, I'd like to hear. I'm not the only one. Plenty more of us would like to know. We want more to know more. We need to know more.
That's not likely to happen. I know that. Since you came to London all those years ago, you've always kept a distance. You've remained aloof, detached, professorial. That last one is your nickname, after all, and I for one have always liked that part of your personality.
I'm not the only one. Lots of fans would agree with me, and that's part of the appeal of Arsenal. We all love the club and we're all in this together, even if we disagree sometimes.
We all want what's best for the club. We want to see good football, but more than that, we want the club to succeed.
For the longest time, it was easy to agree on almost everything. Until recently, we believed you could do little wrong.
You could always turn up the diamond in the rough, the true bargain the others overlooked. We didn't need Chelsea's oil money. We didn't need City's sheikh.
Times are changing, though. After 16 years, things must change. The Premier League is changing. Football is changing. The world is changing. We're all changing.
Some things have not changed.
As fans, we have always expected much. This has not changed. It won't change.
As fans, we have always supported. We have always watched and attended. We will continue to watch. We will continue to attend. We will fret and worry and exult and obsess over every detail, every match, every signing. We're fans, and that's what we do.
I'll watch today when the boys play in Greece. Not that it's a terribly important match. We've qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League—hey, hey!—and Olympiakos will probably relish playing our young side.
I'll watch anyway. So will most of us. That's what we do. Sometimes it's like we can't help it.
But besides the Champions League, it's all so bleak right now.
We're 10th in the league. The halfway point of the season isn't far off and we're behind Swansea, West Ham and Stoke.
We are, in almost every way, a mid-table team. We are exactly 15 points away from the top of the table and 15 points from the bottom. We're not strong at home. We're not road warriors. The only talents we seem to have are drawing matches and blowing two-goal leads.
In the FA Cup, we've got Swansea away in the third round. Since when did that start feeling like a death sentence for us?
You've been saying troubling things lately. You said in October that finishing fourth is like winning a trophy. It's not. We want real trophies.
Our best players keep leaving. That's not acceptable. We want to watch them play in Arsenal colors for years to come. We don't want to watch them win trophies with teams we can't stand. It hurts to see our players fueling title runs in unfamiliar colors. It hurts a lot.
It's not all bad. There's hope in the squad. The Ox is one for the future, and Jack is finally back. Szczesny could be a long-term No. 1 if he gets his head screwed on right one of these days. Some of the new signings have even done well, Santi Cazorla (we knew you still had it in the transfer market).
Sometimes, we play beautiful football. Sometimes, things seem fine. Other times, it all feels horribly wrong. We are, above all, inconsistent. Inconsistency is a sure sign of mediocrity.
On our day, we can compete with the best. With our first-choice XI on the pitch, we are at times formidable. But we've been reduced to this: When it comes time to rest Olivier Giroud, the best available option is Gervinho.
Gervinho is not good enough. (Actually, take away that word "enough".) Others fall into that category too. You know the ones. They all need to go. If money is so tight, why are we wasting money on bad players?
When they're gone (maybe even before), we need new players. The squad is not strong enough, no matter what you say publicly, and we know you know it.
The club might not be in such great shape either, the way things are going. The worse it gets, the longer the board demonstrates how little it cares, the more we as fans will have to ask ourselves tough questions about how we spend our time and money on our North London addiction.
We know—I know—that it's not completely your fault. Not all of it, at least. I know at least a little about the board and their interests. But why did you have to start Gervinho in the middle of the attack last time out? And how did it come to that?
We go back a long time. I want to keep supporting you. We all do. We will all continue supporting Arsenal. Thing is, this team just doesn't feel like, look like or play like Arsenal.
Can you help?