Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Artists and Warriors: With No Balance in the Team, Arsene Let His Gunners Fizzle out, Writes Hunter Davies

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Artists and Warriors: With No Balance in the Team, Arsene Let His Gunners Fizzle out, Writes Hunter Davies

Article excerpt

I have this doctor friend in Loweswater and once again he's sent me an email showing a cupboard with empty shelves. The caption is "Arsenal's trophy cabinet 2008-2009". He thinks it's hilarious, but then doctors have a funny sense of humour. His team is Spurs and he calls Arsenal "the scum". Of course not, don't be daft, he doesn't actually go and watch them play. Or go to any game. He's just one of millions who have a favourite team, like they have a favourite pair of socks, breakfast cereal, girl they fancy off the telly. (Mine currently, as you ask, is that one Martin Clunes fancies in Reggie Perrin who used to be in Moving Wallpaper.)

As a Spurs fan, I don't hate Arsenal. I watch dozens of their games each season, enjoy it when they play well and admire their stars, for it is football I love best, rather than just one club. But the most enjoyable bit of all is that I don't care if they lose- not bothered, not my team.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This season I do find myself caring. What the fuck has gone wrong? Which is what all Arse fans are saying, especially the home ones, though it was silly of Arsene to have a go at them, saying they made him feel like a murderer. Arsene, old son, it is your fault. For four years you've said, "Trust me, next season we will flower." You've murdered their hopes.

Fabregas, from whom so much was expected, has disappeared. Adebayor has shrunk. Walcott still can't shoot, Van Persie is a shadow of his former self, while the lumps, the hard men like Toure and Eboue, who should have taken on the Vieira or Petit enforcer roles, have been exposed as second-rate. If anything, Arsenal are going backwards.

If there was one answer, Arsene would find it, being so clever, calm, cool, philosophical, but of course there isn't--unless it is Arsene himself, for being so cool, clever, philosophical. …

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