What a nice number, don't you think? For Arsenal fans though, 69 has an altogether different signification: it's just the number of months their club has been trophiless. A dire number indeed.
In the past two weeks, Arsenal crashed out of two competitons, thus reducing their possibilities of ending the drought this season.
While the defeat to Barcelona was hardly a shock, the same can't be said about the defeat in the Carling Cup fianl to Birmingham, a team of very inferior quality.
As has been often the case in recent years, Arsenal choked at a decisive moment and lost when they really should have won. In all fairness, though, the Carling Cup is not a very relevant trophy. If not for the drought, Arsenal fans probably wouldn't even care about that competition.
However, the defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League, although expected, fully exposed all the flaws of the club and why they haven't won a trophy in so long despite having the talent to do so.
Blaming everyone else for failure has been the modus operandi around the Emirates Stadium for the past five years, but this was taken to a whole new level after the defeat at Camp Nou.
According to Arsène Wenger and many (arrogant) fans, the only reason why Arsenal got eliminated was the somewhat controversial ejection of Robin Van Persie. This sentiment was echoed by some of the Arsenal players, who used Twitter as a means to insult the referee and his performance.
The frustration might be understandable to some extent, but do they really believe this? Arsenal made history on Tuesday by becoming the first team in Champions League history not to have a single shot on goal during a match! How such team can find the nerve to criticize anyone other than themselves is truly mind-boggling.
Unfortunately, this is just the reflection of the mediocre mentality that reigns among Arsenal and their fans. Seriously, can anyone imagine the managers of Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich Inter Milan, Real Madrid, etc.. using the referee as smokescreen to defend such an embarassing performance from their team?
Of course not, because these clubs have a winning mentality that is fully reflected in their trophy cabinets. Arsenal's collective reaction to the elimination is something you'd expect from the Almeria or Bolton manager, not from a manager of a team aspiring to win major trophies. Albeit, both Almeria and Bolton would not have failed to have a shot on target against Barcelona
In their analysis of the referee's performance, the Arsenal players and their manager conviniently forgot to mention all the instances in which Arsenal got calls in their favor during the tie, and also, that it wouldn't have been a scandal if Van Persie had been sent off in the first half.
According to some Arsenal fans, their team would have won had Van Persie not been sent off. There's always a ready made excuse: the referee, luck, injuries, the state of the pitch... as a last resort, the fans just accuse the other team of playing anti-football (now that's pretty rich, isn't it?).
This unwillingness to accept their own mistakes is the main reason why Arsenal haven't been winning as much as their potential would suggest (in fact, they haven't been winning at all).
This generalization is unfair, of course, as many Arsenal fans are nothing like this description and aware of the problems. However, in today's world, online blogs play a huge role in how a certain fanbase is perceived, and Arsenal fans have forged their reputation as kings of excuses (among other things), even if that's not an accurate representation of some (mayve even the majority) of their fans.
About a month ago, one of Arsenal's Featured Columnists wondered why the media and the footballing community hated Arsenal.
The answer is simple: the (unwarranted) arrogance of their manager and (some sections of) their fans, the holier than thou attitude, the inability to accept defeat, the excuses, the poaching... and the pure hypocrisy.
Wenger is too quick to criticize teams like Stoke, branding them a "rugby team." Now guess who has an even worse disciplinary record (inevitably, Arsenal fans will counter this by mentioning their players were "wrongly" booked/sent off)?
So vehement in his criticism of what he calls "anti-football," Wenger did even worse at Camp Nou this week, where his team, who plays so-called "perfect football," barely left their half. Pot, meet kettle.
And then there's the poaching. For some years now, Arsenal have been poaching young talent from all around the world. Unlike in other countries, the rules in the UK allow professional contracts to be offered at the age of 16, which makes all this legal, even if morally dubious.
But aren't these the same people who slammed Barcelona players for expressing their wish to see Fabregas join them at Camp Nou? The double standard is evident. The same people who demanded the Barcelona players' exectution for TALKING to the media about Fabregas now say it's all well and good when Wenger goes behind the same clubs' backs to poach one of the youngsters from their academy.
The shocking part is that these poached youngsters are later branded as Arsenal's youth products. You'll find Arsenal fans claiming players like Gael Clichy, TheoWalcott or even Thierry Henry, are their youth products, despite the fact that they never even played in Arsenal's youth system. What a brilliant way to form players!
Of course, the fans then claim Arsenal spend less than their competitors. How shocking! They also boast of their healthy financial state, but forget to mention that this is at their own expense! The tickets for the Emirates Stadium are more expensive than any other staidum in Europe.
So yes, this might be part of the reason why the media and the footballing community hate Arsenal. Can you blame them?
These are the same fans who accuse Manchester United fans of being arrogant and Barcelona of tapping up their players. Oh, what was that old saying about people in glass houses?
Before starting to point fingers at other clubs, (some) Arsenal fans should take a long hard look at the elephant in the room: themselves.
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