Same Arsenal!

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By Yusuf Mutiu Olaitan

For quite a while, I’ve been so negligent of an assignment –Talk Sports with Sturaro – I took on willingly. For all those periods, I know, for sure, my followership would have been disappointed. I know I have dashed a whole lot of expectations. I can’t mend it. It’s too heavy to mend. I can only apologise to everyone/readers who feel disappointed by my absence and negligence. Trust me; I’m back here. I’m not just back. I’m back with a bang! Forgive this little boy for whatever I might have done. Gracias!

During those periods of my absence, things have happened in the world of sports. From the Emergence of Italy as the European champions in the Euro 2020, which was played across eleven cities in Europe, where the dazzling prowess of Federico Chiesa was seen, Luke Shaw commitment was once again confirmed, Gigi Donnarruma had the entire Italy nation in his gloves, and he kept them secured, the formidable partnership of the ageing Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci was once again enough for their team, Kalvin Phillips, Pedri, Patrick Schick, Jordan Pickford, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Jeremy Doku presented themselves as some of the best things in football in no distant future.

From Euro 2020 to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Nigerian contingents at the Olympics enjoyed the “Nigerianness” we all have been enjoying for time immemorial. As a Nigerian, it won’t be so healthy for our mental health to start a discourse about Tokyo 2020. It was indeed a nightmare. One that we pray not to have again. Not ever again. Was it the ten athletes that were disqualified due to the ineptitudes and inefficiencies of those at the helms of affairs in Nigeria sports, to a short putter, Chukuebuka Enekwechi, who was seen washing his jersey after he secured a spot at the Olympics claiming he had “only one jersey” for the event? What about the disqualified sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, which was due to “an enhancing substance” she took. So many bad lucks for Nigeria at the Olympics. May we not have such again.

Now, the top European leagues are back in action. French Ligue 1, Spanish La Liga, English Premiership, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga. Look which people are elated! All of us. The ecstasies, actions, reactions, fights, bullies, horrible tackles, and scintillating moves are back. It’s football. It’s the game we love so much.

Amid all of this, even if it’s a different season, it’s still the same Arsenal we have seen over and over again. No wonder why English pundit Rio Ferdinand gave a remark that the first goal Arsenal conceded against a newly promoted side, Brentford, on the opening day of the campaign that “Amongst the six top teams, only Arsenal can concede such, and it didn’t start with this currents side, an Arsenal side if five years ago would concede such goal.” That’s Arsenal for you.

There is this saying that “No matter how the fall of the rain, the spots on Leopard cannot be erased”. The case of Arsenal is no different from the spots on Leopard. After all, Class is permanent and Form is temporary. No one can give what he doesn’t have. Arsenal has been shambolic for time so long. It didn’t start last season, not two seasons ago.

Let me tell you that lose to Brentford on Friday is a culmination of many things, the structure; technical awareness of the coach; the passion and the qualities of the players; and all others that I may not know. I may not know too much, but the fact that I saw the Dennis Bergkamps of this world, The Gilberto Silvas, The Thiery Henrys, The Robert Pires’, and Edu Gasper himself, who was a very technical midfielder. Those footballers represented the Arsenal identity – panache, charisma, and purpose.

If those guys had put on the character of the current set of footballers at Arsenal, would they have gone 49 matches unbeaten in the premiership? Would they have gone undefeated till the final against Barcelona in Paris in the 2006 UEFA champions league? That’s a No. Yes, it’s a No! But today, Arsenal parades in their starting XI, footballers that cannot even make a bench when Arsenal was Arsenal. Sad.

For crying out loud, Arsenal needs a total overhauling in that team. They are short of qualities in every department, from the defense to the midfield to the attack.

They are short of productive and committed players. Yes, it’s the first match of the season, but the fact that a Brentford side that hasn’t played in the champions league for seventy-four years was flawless against Arsenal should tell you what is to come. Shambles. Capitulation. Mess. Defeats. These are what Arsenal fans across the globe should be expecting.

It isn’t their fault; it’s the active contributions of those at the decision table at Arsenal. And unless the management invests heavily in that team, Arsenal fans shall continue to see the fall of their club even though the reparations can’t be done in a single window. It’s a process. But as it stands, it is another season, same Arsenal!

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