Last Saturday, the football world watched on with mouths agape as lowly Arsenal overcame the behemoth that is Tottenham Hotspur, who now dominate north London thanks to an incredible run of finishing above their local rivals once in 21 seasons.
The build-up to the game had laid Spurs’ overwhelming superiority out for all to see.
Pochettino’s men, a team that shares a vast career haul of zero English trophies between them, were expected to run out comfortable winners, much to the delight of swathes of the media who have been predicting this day for the past ten years.
Arsenal, on the other hand, were relying on the likes of Mesut Özil, a player so lazy he has only created more chances than any other player in the Premier League this season. No matter how often journos and pundits pressplain to the public that he needs to change his game to be considered even half-decent, Özil continues to infuriate by out-creating every other player in the division since September 2013. He clearly just will not listen.
Unsurprisingly, given that the World Cup winner is a shit player who never turns up for big games, Özil was left out of every combined XI created by the press. His Man of the Match award was given more out of pity than for a dominating display that tore Spurs apart.
Still in shock from the result at the Emirates, and the sight of Mesut tracking back, football journalists were broken when the James Milner of Twitter Accounts, the official Arsenal handle, had the audacity to lightheartedly tweet a writer who had deliberately created a piece of content to get a reaction.
Using the distressing image of Mesut Ozil drinking a cup of tea, Arsenal’s gif was clearly designed to intimidate the writer in question using the devil’s tool of fact.
It created a backlash from a cabal of journalists, which mobilised in defence of a slighted colleague claiming to have received never-before-heard-of levels of abuse from frenzied Arsenal fans who had been driven to madness by the sight of the German sipping a beverage.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 18, 2017
This self-righteous faction, which attacked the club after it stooped to levels shocking even in the world of football, was merely protecting the innocent sensibilities of a tabloid hack, one of the more vulnerable and sensitive species on the planet.
It is, of course, well known that the more provocatively inclined papers take full responsibility for every venomous reaction spewed in response to their thoroughly researched and ethical articles. So it’s understandable that they would hold Arsenal to the same standards, especially when what they had tweeted was so clearly designed to intimidate the entire demographic of at-risk people that constitutes tabloid journalists.
Online abuse, unfortunately, is the price we pay for social media.
And, to be fair, no journalist, no matter how much they wanted to generate a furious reaction from Arsenal fans, deserves to be barraged with an incredible number of disgusting tweets over the course of 14 hours. Especially when the tweets are allegedly so horrific that the entire Twitter user base, without conversation or consultation, makes practically every one of them vanish from the platform.
Given Twitter has a reputation for sharing the worst of human nature as widely as possible, it was an impressive feat of co-ordination to make this abuse seem like it had never even happened in the first place.
One tabloid journalist did his best to demonstrate that this wasn’t just a case of football writers being unable to eat what they dish out themselves.
Another was particularly affected by the abuse aimed at a person he admitted knowing. He refuted claims that there had not, actually, been waves of abuse sent in the original author’s direction. But, to protect that person from any further trauma, the refutee did not share any of abuse that he maintains was at a ‘ludicrous level’.
A prominent editor from the daily newspaper who published that now-infamous combined XI reassured readers that, while it might be the sort of behaviour Arsenal stoop to, his publication in no way sought to wind up fans as part of their agenda. He’s right: the piece that was at the root of this unfortunate incident was written entirely in good faith.
It’s just that the journalist who wrote it was left so traumatised he had to lock his Twitter account when people started asking to, you know, actually see the abuse.
Clearly, that fateful combined XI contained only Tottenham players because they honestly and truly believed that not one single Arsenal player would get into the Spurs side. To suggest that it was written deliberately to provoke a reaction that they then complained about would be ridiculous.
Arsenal made the fatal error of humiliating the press not once but twice in a single weekend while simultaneously putting their darlings, Tottenham, back in their box under the stairs.
This contravened all previous arrangements between the club and media, which stated categorically that the press could abuse the club, fans and players as much as they want but that Arsenal must remain silent.
Rumours that Arsenal are preparing Mesut Özil mugs for the next press conference are, at the time of writing, unconfirmed.