A Man in a Red Shirt Can Neither Hide Nor Retreat

I fight in red for the same reasons that Garibaldi chose the red shirt – because a few men in a field wearing red look like many men – if there are ten you will think there are a hundred; if a hundred, you will believe them a thousand.  And the colour of red dances in the enemy’s rifle sights and his aim will be bad – but, best reason of all…

…a man in a red shirt can neither hide nor retreat  (Hugh MacDiarmid)

It’s time for Arsenal to stop hiding and start bloody fighting.  I refuse to believe that tenth place is a true reflection of our current squad’s ability.  I refuse to believe this group of players is worse than those at Swansea.  I refuse to believe we’re worse than all of the nine teams currently placed above us in the league; the two Manchester clubs maybe, but not the rest.

Chelsea had a good start to the season, only dipping in form post Di Matteo.  5pur2 have recently had a winning streak, broken only by our 5-2 victory over them.  From Everton (5th) to Stoke (9th) they’ve all had strong starts to the season, arguably playing to their maximum.  We, on the other hand, have had our worst ever start to a league season under Arsene Wenger.  And the damage after of all of this?  We’re only 5 points from third place.

For those who say we’re 15 points from first?  I say let’s be realistic.  We’re not equipped to finish in the top two and we’re not equipped to win the Champions League.  As such, these are our targets for the season:

  • Finish third in the league, fourth minimum
  • Progress as far as possible in the Champions League
  • Win a domestic cup

So far we’re only 5 points from third (despite the above mentioned poor start to the season, compared to our rivals more positive starts).  We’re into the last 16 of the Champions League (the same cannot be said for billionaire backed City and Chelsea).  And we’ve got a League Cup Quarter Final to look forward to on Tuesday night (away to Bradford City).

Is the garden all warm and rosy?  No.  But is it all doom and gloom?  Certainly not.  There’s a long way to go in this campaign, so it’s time for Arsenal to start fighting and show us their true potential.  Arsenal have become too accustomed to team’s just hoofing the ball clear, giving it back to us easily, and letting us play our game.  We need to realise that’s not going to happen anymore.  Teams like Swansea, and this weekend’s opponents West Brom, like to get the ball down and play.  Therefore if we want to impose ourselves on the game, on the opposition, we’re going to have to start working harder to win the ball back.  Swansea’s first goal on Saturday was the perfect example of our lack of effort in this area.  We had all eleven men behind the ball, the problem is our players think that’s good enough and it’s not.  A few passes later and Michu was finishing with aplomb.  We press and work hard against the ‘bigger’ opposition, so why not against the ‘lesser’ opposition?

Mikel Arteta has done a great job, in a position that isn’t natural to him.  But he’s no Alex Song when it comes to physical presence and making tackles (or stupid fouls to break the play).  I’m not saying Song was perfect, but we miss his presence.  I’m sure Arsene thought Diaby could help Arteta in that regard, but Abou will never be fit for prolonged periods.  As good as Arteta, Wilshere, and Cazorla are they’re too similar, too slight.  We need our new Vieira.  It’s time to get stuck in; it’s time to make tackles.  It’s time to start winning the ball back as opposed to thinking the other (‘lesser’) teams will just gift it back and watch us play.

A ‘new Vieira’ cannot be bought until January, so until then this group of players need to start fighting.  They need to start fighting now and they need to start fighting hard.  Let’s show some pride in ourselves and in the glorious shirt we wear.  Let’s remember the ability these players have and help them to believe again, to restore their confidence (as I said in my last blog Victoria Concordia Crescit).  It’s a massive few days coming up for The Arsenal and I’m waiting for a response; I’ve been waiting for a while.  To go down fighting is one, fans recognise the effort, but to lose at a whimper like against Swansea and Olympiakos is inexcusable.  I’m waiting to see your blood, sweat, and tears Arsenal; show me what you’re truly made of.

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