By Samuel Mowbray
One of the most important rules in life is loyalty. Family, friends, business - if one isn't loyal, then things will fall apart.
I admire Arsene Wenger enormously - as anyone who reads Veterans View will know. This man has done more for Arsenal in my life than any other single individual - and though I may not always agree with the great man who, in the nature of the football industry and how it works, is bound to be wrong more often than he is right, he has made some breathtaking decisions (about players and games) and brought us all some joyous moments.
In addition the notion of not being loyal to Arsenal is quite beyond me. And so I admire his notion of loyalty to his players.
As I read his praise for Bendtner mid-week, it was with a sense of both doubt and understanding.
But as I took my seat on Saturday against Villa, and heard the team, it was only with a sense of doubt. 4-5-1 versus Manchester United made total sense - particularly given the state of our injuries. But 4-5-1 versus Aston Villa - with NB upfront when Adebayour was fit was patently ridiculous.
This will be the last time for a while that I will write about Nicklas. The man is completely out of his depth running the line solo against a team who are clearly going to come to defend and hit us - brilliantly - on the counter.
Of our three league defeats at the Emirates, this was the first where we absolutely beaten. I have never seen us so poor - to the point where we could have lost 4-0 in a game where we made no - maybe one - chances…
Please don't write in and say he is only 20. We have a team managed by a man whose philosophy is 'if you are young enough, you are good enough'. Bendtner isn't good enough and to play him on Saturday in the way that Arsene set the team out was one of the biggest tactical errors he has made.
Be loyal - yes; but, as I wrote last week, sport is about decisions. NB made wrong decisions against Man U last week. His manager made a wrong decision on Saturday morning when he picked the team against Villa.
It doesn't often happen (that he gets things wrong) - and it pains me to write it. On Saturday it was like watching Tiger Woods trying to hit a green from 250 yards out - with a nine iron. It's not going to work.
NB made no wrong decisions on the field against Villa. He simply wasn't good enough. His manager made the wrong decision. Just as Tiger's caddy would have done in choosing that nine iron.
I believe NB never will be good enough. I rest my case. When I next write about him, it will be about a great game he has had and won for us - and about my stupidity. And I move on.
So, where are we?
To keep the golf analogy going. When, I believe, Padraig Harrington finished the third day of the Open this year with two bogeys, he looked at them as positives They could have been double-bogeys he said. The glass is always half full.
We have had a strange four games at the Emirates - but the glass is half full. Probably three-quarters.
Sport is about decisions. But it's also about attitude and confronting reality.
We are fourth. We won't win the title.
We could win the Carling Cup. We have some of the most amazing reserves we have ever had. EVER. I say it again. EVER. We can blood them as we look to finish third in the Premiership.
We could win the FA Cup. We could even win the Champions League.
Things aren't bad. For everyone that sang at the end of the Villa game, I salute you.
We are Arsenal Football Club. We stand loyal. And we stand loyal to something very special.
Things could be better but things are OK.
We will have some other not great times this season. But we still have something very special.
Believe. And be loyal.