So we're right back at it, aren't we? Just a couple of days after beating Liverpool at Anfield already Arsenal start preparing to welcome AC Milan to the Emirates, with no midfielders and a four-goal deficit. So that should be a fun one, right?
The fallout from the Andre Villas-Boas mess continues, and Nick Hornby turns up, so without further ado, here's some news for your mindhole. And your eyes, I guess, since they're the portal to the mind and all that.
First off, Milan (which I said my piece on earlier today). According to Arsene Wenger, we have a "5% chance" of mounting the historic comeback necessary to actually win the tie, but Arsenal will try anyway. His motivation seems to be the belief that the earlier performance was so bad (and more recent ones so much better) that it couldn't possibly be repeated. Of course I agree, but still...4-0 behind is a tough cookie, and I just don't see it.
Arseblog and ACLF agree, to an extent, but haven't called for a full-scale bench mob. Both also agree that the AVB debacle in West London is interesting from the Arsenal fan point of view, considering the long periods of consistency in management and philosophy that the club has seen in recent years. Yogi's Warrior notes that few clubs have sustained success by acting as Chelsea has since Roman Abramovich's takeover - a few years of silverware, but typically nothing lasting - while Arseblog notes that while our management has issues, the interference of a non-expert owner isn't one of them, and we're better for it. For me, the fact that one man has managed Arsenal since I was in elementary school is a point of pride, and a big part of the reason why I'm a fan. Some like the passing, I like non-insane management. Sue me, I'm a Mets fan, I need to get my fix somewhere.
Speaking of AVB, Wenger has also come out as a critic of the move, though in his usual considered way.
Our job is difficult because we face multiple opinions every day and we need as well to have the strength to push our own opinions through, and many times despite big resistance. But I'm sure that Villas-Boas had the strength to do that but, when you're not given time, you have no chance.
I know there's a fraternity of managers and all that, but this seems more to me like a criticism of the way Chelsea are run, which everyone knows Wenger sees as an existential threat to the existence of league football. Well maybe not everyone, but he's talked about it before. It seems as an outsider that this was more a board issue than an Abramovich issue, as the head man seemed to like AVB quite a bit - but still, it's all a part of that same, weird package.
The manager also had some news on Jack Wilshere, who he says "isn't close to a comeback" although "the last scan was good." Wenger is hopeful to have him back this season, which is just a disturbing and depressing thought (that is, that there's a possibility he might not be). Hopefully he won't have any more "medical miracles."
It just wouldn't be the 2011-2012 season without some bit about Robin van Persie, but this piece on his evolution as a player by Arsenal Column is especially superb. Until you think about it, sometimes you don't realize just how versatile van Persie is, and how much better a player it makes him. He really is a poster child (man? dude?) for Arsenal's tactical and positional training, as well as his own prodigious talents.
And finally, noted Gooner and awesome writer-type guy Nick Hornby thinks football fandom is slowly dying, as clubs turn the game into something akin to a theater show. I don't disagree that the clubs (and leagues, and governing bodies, and media, and television, etc.) are trying really hard to do this; I don't believe it's possible. Unless my fandom is something distinct and inferior to the Way Things Were, I'm pretty sure I'm just about as rabid as I would be had I grown up on the Highbury terraces, so I don't really think this specific problem is really a thing. I don't like the fact that lots of people can't afford tickets, but I don't think it stops people from being fans. The experience is a different one, but I don't doubt that passion for clubs remains.
Apropos of nothing: Nice helmet, Tony. WHO'S THE BOSS NOW?