By Avenell Dave
It’s often said that Arsenal play the most attractive football in England, a self-fulfilling prophecy which is all well and good when things are going smoothly, but doesn’t seem to apply when we’re stuffed by our nearest rivals yet again.
The Arsenal Addict silence over the past few days has not been a fit of pique over what has gone wrong, nor devastation at the defeat against the Ch*vs on Sunday.
The sad thing is that the defeat at Stamford Bridge was so, so predictable and there was almost a lack of tension amongst the Gooners because of the resignation that we just aren’t good enough.
So much has been written about the lack of a striker, the weakness in goal and our inexperience and we can only hope that there is a revision of policy in the summer so that the move to the new stadium makes us more competitive against the rivals as well as the minnows when the new season is upon us.
We can have a glimmer of hope about winning the Champions League but in truth, if we can’t beat the best in England, can we really expect to do so in Europe?
Graham Mac and I were lucky enough to go to Barcelona this weekend and watch Barca against Getafe at the Camp Nou.
It was surreal in many ways. The stadium was almost full, Getafe were in the top six and yet there was a lack of atmosphere, a lack of edge to the game with Getafe looking as if they simply wanted to show up and take it all in before going home without being humiliated.
Regardless of their position, the visitors hardly threatened, even when Barca went down to ten men.
It was all too easy for the home side, whose talent and experience and aura had clearly had a pre-match impact on their opponents.
It was only when Barca went down to nine men that Getafe slightly threatened, winning a penalty late into injury time that made the score more respectable but underlined how Barca had never really had to get out of second gear.
It underlined to us how different football is on the continent and reminded me that Barca, who don’t have a huge number of giants in their team, are so much more accomplished than Arsenal.
Watching the Arsenal match the next day, the first goal underlined a lack of defensive organisation, the second was a goal from the moment the Ch*vs started their counter-attack.
In so many of our recent games against the Ch*vs and M*nure, we’ve been out muscled and out thought or given a lesson in being professional by sides who may or may not be a great deal better than us.
But watching Barca on Saturday, it occurred to me that while they pay much bigger fees for players than we do, it’s only going to take three new players to set us on our way to similar competitiveness.
We all know Manuel Almunia isn’t up to it.
We all know we need at least one if not two strikers with height and pace and power.
We all know we will probably need an assertive central defender in the summer if Sol, Gallas and or Silvestre leave. Buying one last month would have given us time to bed them in for next season, so that’s a missed opportunity.
We all know we’re really NOT far away and if we can start beating our rivals as well as the smaller sides, we can start to get back that aura that actually makes lesser games easier, which has a knock-on effect in terms of injuries as well as points.
We’ve got to keep believing, Addicts.
Supporting Arsenal is an honour and, like family, no one ever said it would always be easy.