So it was that the Premier League football season started on Saturday.
The team I support (Arsenal) had been tipped by many as contenders. Many of us Arsenal fans were in dream land, not only had we won back to back FA Cups, we have signed Petr Cech. The Petr Cech. Arguably the best goal keeper of the Premier League modern day era. There was money to spend and we were only going to spend it on absolutely top quality players.
A week ago, we had just taken out Chelsea (our bete noire), laid them flat on the fields of Wembley and bottom spanked them while the sun was shining on a warm and glorious summer day. The future was bright and rosy. Bring it on we said. Even Adrian Durham, he the unrepentant Gooner baiter apparently kept under the thumb by his Gooner wife tipped Arsenal for the title. WHAT COULD GO WRONG.
ARSENAL. That's what. We defeated ourselves 2 nil in a match everybody including the hopelessly pessimistic Arsenal fans and the deliriously optimistic West Ham fans believed Arsenal will win hands down. It was all about how many will West Ham 'chop' as my people will say. Except Bilic & his boys didn't read the script. Fair play to them. They took their chances. I do hope Bilic leads them to pastures anew. I broadly supported the West Ham owner's decision to chart a course for the team away from the Allardyce years. Watching the two Europa games at the Boleyn this season did not fill me with any confidence. Of the back of those two live games and the results of the 4 games they played in total, I genuinely expected them to struggle but they are off to a flier. Hopefully the momentum from the 3 points at the Emirates will serve them well.
Now back to Arsenal. As Ed Chamberlain of Sky Sports said during half time on Sunday - TYPICAL ARSENAL. We did our thing. Like we did last season against Manchester United, Monaco, Swansea at the Emirates. Against those people down the road and you might want to add Sunderland as well or should I go back to the Carling Cup Final versus Birmingham or that night in Paris? 'Na our way' (that's the way we roll)
On Sunday, we contrived to throw 3 precious points away. I don't mind if we played a team that was better and after giving the proverbial 110% you get beaten. I don't mind. You doff your hats to that opponent, retreat into your corner to lick your wounds, prepare for the next one and the next one.
But this was different. Some have refused to realise that this is the Arsenal way by blaming Petr Cech for the defeat. As Arseblog said in his ESPN article yesterday, our defensive errors were compounded by goal keeping errors. These were basic defensive errors. Our focus should not be on Petr Cech. I am sorry to inform those people that we signed Petr Cech not Jesus Christ. He didn't promise a miracle. The promise of Petr lies in his pedigree, his stature which many in the dressing room have alluded to and his ability to instill confidence in his back 4. So when you refuse to maintain the defensive line at a free kick and you set up that line too high or you refuse to charge down an opponent who is about to take a pop shot at your net, I will say you look at yourself if you are looking for someone to blame. Don't look at Petr.
In an earlier column, I said I didn't think signing a goal keeper was our top priority and I didn't think Cech was a necessary upgrade on what we have. Having delivered Wenger's first defeat of a Mourinho side and earned all those accolades from pre - season. I am now convinced of the need for his signing. The Chelsea players as Wenger said were looking to score the perfect goal against him and failed. Also we managed to defend collectively against Chelsea for the Community Shield and Petr contributed extra by scaring the day light out of the Chelsea fans. I remember him clattering John terry at some point. That was the Petr we bought. Te one if our defenders and the other 10 outfield players do their part, he will do is.
For me and based on the defeat of Chelsea alone, Petr has earned a lot of his corn with Arsenal. If we want him to deliver more of such performances, the people in front of him should look at themselves and do their jobs better. Even if you are Barcelona or Bayern Munich, if you expose your goal keeper, he will 'chop cane' no mater his reputation or ability.
So please Arsenal fans blaming Cech. Go and look for something else to do please. Lets fix our club to the extent that this type of unexplained face fall does not happen gain. (Watch me hold my breath and choke to death)
PS: I will not be posting for 3 weeks as I am out of town. I might just post something about where I am going when I return