In the ever-changing landscape of English football, there has been only one constant in recent years: Arsenal’s position at the top of the “banter club” tree.
The Gunners’ unenviable ability to shoot themselves in the foot, combined with their proneness to harsh bolts of misfortune, ensures each new season somehow appears to mirror the last.
So as the pre-season bleep tests come to an end and we hurtle towards the startline of yet another Premier League campaign, what nonsense can we expect to see unfold at the Emirates Stadium once again this year?
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1. F*cking up a key transfer
Arsenal have a unique ability to make not just a pig’s ear of the transfer market, but breed an entire litter of fully grown, sh*t-covered swines of it.
This summer they’ve been attempting to prise left-back Kieran Tierney away from Celtic with three rejected bids thus far – two of which have ingeniously been for the same amount of money.
So sit back and wait for Jim White to tell us this deal has fallen through on deadline day, before news breaks that the Gunners are trying to tempt Nigel Winterburn out of retirement as a cheaper alternative.
2. Shkodran Mustafi will keep on playing
From William Gallas sulking on the pitch to Robin van Persie snaking up to Manchester, plus a whole host of other injury-prone skippers, Arsenal haven’t had much luck with their captains in the past decade.
Now the curse of the armband looks to have struck once again, with Laurent Koscielny refusing to go on tour as he tries to force a move back to France. His inevitable departure has wrecked the club’s plans to reshape their defence, meaning Arsenal fans’ worst nightmares will come true once again this season: a continued reliance on Shkodran Mustafi.
You wouldn’t even wish that upon your worst enemy.
3. Carl Jenkinson will still be hanging about
In fairness, if you were playing (OK, turning up for training) for the team you grew up obsessed with and were getting paid the best part of £50,000 a week for the pleasure, you would stick around for as long as you could, right?
At least Carl is giving everyone in the stands hope they can still make it.
4. #EmeryOut trending
Moon landing conspiracists; Flat Earth believers; Arsenal Twitter. All are unique phenomenons of the modern world, and we can be sure to see the latter come to the fore once again this season.
Given the team’s capitulation at the end of last season, it won’t take long for some retweet-seeking fans to start the #EmeryOut campaign in earnest.
Probably when they “disgracefully” only manage to beat Burnley 2-0 at home.
5. An important player getting a long-term injury
As sure as disgustingly humid night follows offensively hot day, anyone who plays themselves into a position of crucial importance to the Gunners soon finds themselves set for a devastating spell on the sidelines.
Take last season for example, when their two best defenders, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin, both ruptured their cruciates within the space of a few weeks.
Of course, we don’t wish to see any player get an injury, but if we were working in the Arsenal medical room, we’d probably be putting in a bulk order of crutches and those weird moon boots right about now.
6. Fan protests about the Kroenke family
The Arsenal-owning Kroenkes are about as popular at the Emirates as the idea of renaming the stadium the Emmanuel Adebayor Arena.
Fan disgruntlement at the family just using the club as a mere cash cow reached new heights over the summer, so it won’t take long for that to manifest itself in person.
We suspect it’ll take the form of protests at the stadium, but only after they’ve gone and bought the new kit at the club shop, of course.
7. Arsenal Fan TV giving young players unjustified abuse
In January 2019 a youthful Arsenal side beat Blackpool 3-0 in the FA Cup third round, with academy graduate midfielder Joe Willock bagging a brace. How did Arsenal Fan TV react? By decrying him as not good enough for the club. Obviously.
Six months on and Willock has been hailed as a “top talent” by Zinedine Zidane after the Englishman’s performance in a friendly against Real Madrid. It’s almost as if the chaps at AFTV don’t know what they’re talking about?
So expect to see the channel jump on the backs of youngsters like Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe the second they misplace a place. Can’t beat your own supporters, can you? Pity.
Ufficiale ⚪️⚫️ @juventusfc #finoallafine pic.twitter.com/NXtsmAxT80
— Aaron Ramsey (@aaronramsey) July 1, 2019
8. Cocking up contracts
In the last 18 months alone, Arsenal have been held over a barrel by Mesut Ozil, lost Alexis Sanchez on a dreadful swap deal, and seen both Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey depart on free transfers. It’s as if the Gunners are being run by the people who just skip through all the contract expiry warnings on Football Manager.
As another season ticks by, expect them to mess up their contract negotiations, setting in motion the eventual departures of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Shkodran Mustafi on free transfers.
Actually, that last one wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
9. Having a terrible away record
Of their 38 away league games in the past two seasons, the Gunners have won just 11 – picking up a dismal 41pts out of a possible 114 on the road.
That is, evidently, not the sort of form that will have the club rolling in much-needed Champions League cash once again.
With seasoned pros like Ramsey, Koscielny and Petr Cech being replaced by a new generation of inexperienced youth, Arsenal lack the leadership needed to reverse their fortunes away from the Emirates.
All of which points to…
10. Falling just short again
After all, this is a Europa League team on a Europa League budget with a Europa League manager. Not quite what you need to get yourselves back among the footballing elite, is it?
But, hey. It could still be fun, right? Right?!Shoot over to PaddyPower.com now for all the latest football odds