Keep Calm, Keep the Faith.

I don't suppose it's necessary to yet again re-hash the last two-plus weeks of the season, given that I'm writing as a way to take a break from arguing with fellow Arsenal fans who are convinced that we won't even finish in competition for Europe and that Arsene Wenger is a French Vatican assassin warlock who's been under deep cover only to infiltrate English society and kill the queen. Or something like that. It's been a rough few weeks, to be sure, losing a cup final, being boned by Platini and his referee in Barcelona, and hardly putting in a convincing performance while losing again at Old Trafford. But the reactionary bile being spewed all around the intarwebs has taken it all a bit far. To those who feel that all is lost even today, on the 18th of March, I say to you: Keep calm, and keep the faith.

Our injury list, the old enemy, has decided to rise again at precisely the worst time of the season. Thomas Vermaelen (who I admit I haven't expected to see back at all since December) was just recently ruled out for the season; Johan Djourou, the loss of whom making the United defeat that much harder to bear, is out for 6 weeks (per Arsene), nearly the rest of the season... Although with Arsenal, who knows? He could be back in two weeks or miss the next 7 years. Cesc, Theo, Song, and now Diaby are sidelined at least for the West Brom match, to say nothing of Szczesny and Fabianski of course, who will both miss the rest of the season. Thankfully we didn't sell Almunia, as he's been solid since stepping back between the sticks, but only Arsenal seem to be forced to worry about having a good 3rd string keeper. Right now, the spine of the team, from back to front, is likely Almunia, Squil--please, save your boos for the end, please--laci, Koscielny, Wilshere, Denil--again, please hold your boos--son, Insert Midfielder's Name Here, and Robin van Persie. Yes, it looks pretty fucking dire, I have to admit.

Yet to abandon all hope in the face of this crisis is defeatist and faithless. What's worse is that many of us are using this as an excuse to play the blame game, now your "Le Grove" types feel it's their time to shine. It's time to blame Arsene for not buying 3 new midfielders that they first heard about in the press or in Football Manager and for not selling Denilson, Diaby and Rosicky in the summer. It's time to blame the board for paying down the debt on the stadium, which was the right thing to do until 2 weeks ago, instead of launching ourselves into more massive debt and buying Chiellini and Casillas. It's time to burn Wenger in effigy, sack him, and replace him with... well, they rarely have an answer here outside of Mourinho. Trophies or no, I'd rather have the Jose puppet from Special 1 TV manage Arsenal than that arrogant toerag.

One bad result, a loss at United, and everyone loses their fucking minds. It's as though everyone's brains collectively asked some invisible commanding officer (played by the ghost of Graham Chapman), "Permission to freak out, sir?" and received the same disembodied reply of "Granted!" Issues abound at the club right now, and instead of standing with the club we profess to love in time of need, many of us are either bowing our heads and mourning for a season that's far from over, or talking openly of a Norwich-scarf-wearing protest of sorts, the benefit of which I still fail to see.

All right, stop this at once, you're all being very silly.

I have spent this entire week arguing strongly against such large-scale madness, and been duly shouted down by those who are convinced they are right. I'm not saying I'm right, I'm saying I don't know what is going to happen, and neither do you. I'm selling doubt, humility in the face of the unknown. You don't have to buy into anything either, and it won't leave you feeling disappointed at being wrong when we do win. The fact remains that we are just 3 points off of United in the Premier League with a match in hand, so no, as bad as things seem, we're still very much in for a trophy this season.

I'm not advocating anyone to blindly follow the club, or Arsene. Nothing of the sort. There are obvious flaws within the squad that must be addressed. It's becoming apparent that our possession-based offensives rely far too much on Cesc making a killer final ball, and in his absence we fall flat. The gap in quality, and noticeably in just a visible will to win, from Cesc, Jack or Song to Diaby, Denilson and even Rosicky, is now a chasm, and Arsene's unceasing belief in players like the latter three has backfired consistently; both of these faults can be remedied in the summer by selling on players who do not perform and buying some proven, hungry professionals that will create competition for places and shake up what appears to be complacency, particularly for those just outside of the first XI. This isn't anything I don't know, but as none of it can be addressed until June, it seems foolish to waste my time worrying and moaning about it now.

What might have been along with what, unfortunately, still is.

I may not like it, you may not like it, but the visiting players taking the field this weekend at The Hawthornes will be Arsenal. Our fantastic travelling supporters will assuredly give them all the vocal encouragement they could ask for. I would hope that all of you, whether you're watching at home, at the pub, or even those who will watch the live broadcast from Emirates Stadium, will back the team every time they take the field, despite your reservations about the manager, the board, or some of the players. When they wear the shirt, those players are Arsenal whether the name on the back is Wilshere or Squillaci, Denilson or Nasri. I encourage everyone to be an Arsenal supporter, in deed as well as in name.

Oh yeah, and Mad Jens Lehmann is back, signed on as emergency backup and toe-keeper-on-er to Manuel Almunia. If that doesn't amp you up and scare the bejeezus into the opposition and any of his own underperforming teammates, then you/they are in a coma.

Keep calm, keep the faith. And keep it Goonerish.

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