Opening days rarely have any impact on who wins the league, yet Arsenal fans lost it, big time. Will they ever learn?
On August 16th 2015 – or a year ago if you like things nice and straightforward – Aston Vila secured a hard-fought win away at Stoke on the opening day of the season. That much-feared arch predator Andreas Weimann scored the goal and the general consensus after just ninety minutes of football was that Villa may be uninspiring under Paul Lambert but at least they had backbone. They’ll be fine.
Twenty-four hours later on Merseyside Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge bagged a goal apiece to ensure Liverpool got off to winning ways. Suarez may have left for an eye-watering sum in the summer but those pair still had more than enough between them to rip defences to pieces in the months to come. Look out Champions League and here’s to another title bid.
Of course none of this came to pass – not even close – but at least a lesson might have been learned for this time out as another shiny new season introduced itself; perhaps an acknowledgement of the indisputable truth that a mere hour and a half of football is not a reliable barometer for the 3330 minutes that is to come?
You would think so wouldn’t you?
Instead, before the dust had chance to even settle, we were treated to a knee-jerk apocalypse as the doom-and-gloom merchants reacted to a defeat or disappointing draw by prematurely ejaculating their hysteria all across Twitter. Sack the clueless manager. Don’t let that striker within a ballooned strike of the club ever again. Why haven’t we signed Messi yet?
If the past decade of social media, endless polls, post-match YouTubing, phone-ins, and constant interaction between fan and media has highlighted anything it’s that we’re a fickle and excitable bunch. What the immediate fall-out from the opening day fixtures illustrated was something else entirely – the morons have megaphones and they’re taking over the asylum.
If you seek out conclusive evidence based on the opening day of any campaign; or form an opinion on it beyond a hint of a clue to the vaguest of hunches, then you’re the type of person who switches films off after five minutes because nothing much has happened yet. You mentally dump a potential soul-mate on a first date when she arrives at the pub and orders a drink you dislike. You scream at the dawn for what the day brings.
You are – if you like things nice and straightforward – a certified idiot.
If you locked me in a room with Hitler Kim Jong and Wenger and handed me a gun I would empty the entire magazine inside Wenger’s brain.
— Mehul Wavade (@PuneriGooner) August 10, 2015
I’m not interested in Wenger’s excuses, I just want him to resign like he should have done at least 4 years ago. You hear me, RESIGN NOW
— Home of Fußball (@ExcitableExpert) August 9, 2015
Its all kicking off outside the Emirates pic.twitter.com/fUu72ll0Al
— T-3-D-D-Y (@T3D7DY) August 9, 2015
The worst of the bunch was Arsenal natch yet surely they more than most should know better than to cry into their chardonnay after a lacklustre first showing. Two seasons ago Wenger’s men lost 3-1 to Aston Villa at the Emirates, a defeat that was met with similar wailing and howling. Arsenal then went unbeaten at home for the remainder of the season. Did Gooners recall that in the West Ham aftermath? Of course not. They had already forgotten how they felt seven days earlier when – high from their Community Shield success – Petr Cech was going to gain them six or seven points per season and the title was as good as theirs.
They say a week is another lifetime in football; well actually they don’t – I’ve just made that up – but they should say that. In comparison the Villa debacle may as well have taken place at Bannockburn or Hastings.
I have a theory that we project so much importance onto the opening fixture due to over-compensating for the barren months that preceded it. If starved of food for a significant spell then suddenly offered a generous plateful you’re hardly going to savour each morsel, offering a thoughtful critique every few chews. You’re going to wolf it down whole then belch for blighty.
That’s what these appalling tweets amounted to that called for Wenger to go: Stupid, misinformed, involuntary belches.
Surely though even the most feverish of Gooner can appreciate that here was a team returning with varying degrees of fitness and collectively finding their feet? Surely they know that post-Christmas the West Ham loss will be recalled with the hazy recollection of a childhood memory? Surely in the now, now, NOW of football today there is still room for a modicum of common-sense and the ability to look at the bigger picture? Surely?
Two years back – just twenty-four hours following Arsenal’s surrender to Villa thereby relinquishing their title hopes at a stroke in a disaster comparable to an earthquake – their north London rivals Spurs enjoyed a much brighter start to the 2013/14 campaign with a 1-0 triumph at Crystal Palace. Record signing Roberto Soldado scored on his debut and Spurs fans presumably made the short journey home bubbling with excitement at the prospect of their new Spanish international showing his class throughout the season and bagging a hatful into the bargain.
The opening game of the season lies to us. It really is that simple. As are you if you called for Wenger’s head.
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