This was supposed to be a happy post. Maybe even have a laugh at Spurs – and who can’t do that these days?
But that was before Unai Emery’s League team sucked every ounce of happiness from my soul by playing against Bournemouth at the Emirates like they were Sunderland at the Nou Camp. Yes, of course you want to see Arsenal sit back, concede possession to a mid-table side, make no effort to attack (zero shots in the second half) and make defensive subs to close out a one-nil. Who doesn’t?
It seems churlish to moan about Arsenal at the minute when they’re one point behind City and have lost only one game this season to the greatest side in history – but, my god, have you seen them play in the league? It wouldn’t seem possible that one coach could play two so very different teams but that’s what we get with Emery: excitement in the cups and in Europe; cowardly, turgid stuff in the league.
Still, at least we aren’t Tottenham, who’ve finally run out of the luck that guided them above Arsenal and into the wet dreams of so many journalists.
Is that it? Are Spurs over now? Have they passed their peak with a few finishes above Arsenal and a Champions League final? Was that really what all the fuss was about over the last five years? Was that all they were building towards?
In Unai Emery’s first season they needed an Arsenal collapse to disguise their own. Now, here we are just a few games into the new season and Arsenal are four points ahead of them while playing some of the worst football you’re likely to see at any top club. We’re watching Mauricio Pochettino teeter on the cliff edge of his Spurs career.
Will he jump or will they push him? Either way it’s hilarious. There never was a power shift in North London: it was laughable when it was claimed, as Arsenal won trophies and Spurs, well, didn’t.
It’s pants-wettingly funny now.
So, on the face of it and with all that schadenfreude considered, this has been a phenomenal week for Arsenal fans.
A four-nil thrashing of Standard Liege followed up by three points against Bournemouth while Spurs shipped seven to Bayern Munich, four of which went to Serge Gnabry, before imploding against Brighton. Hubba, hubba, hubba. Throw in Manchester City’s shock defeat at the Etihad against Wolves and it looks even better.
Arsenal sit third, one point off second and one clear of fourth. It’s all good and I should be happy. But I cannot shake the feeling that Unai Emery is slowly killing Arsenal, sucking out the style that was embedded over the past few decades and filling it with concrete.
Will that matter if he somehow guides us to the top four?
For me, it will, but I know for many it won’t. Least of all the owners who will see the cash start to come rolling back in. But what then? What do we do when we face Bayern Munich if we can’t even bring our game to Bournemouth?
But, for now, we’re sitting pretty above Spurs while they rock quietly in a corner trying to come to terms with the realisation that last season was as good as it gets for them. As an Arsenal supporter, I know there’s better to be had.