We may as well begin with the elephant in the room, yes? In my estimation, the on-field action should always - ALWAYS - be the main focal point of any football match. A club's support is a fine and worthy addition, but they cannot and should not ever be the main attraction. Sadly, that was not the case this weekend.
Look, I get it, the match was another slab of spectacularly dull fare in a season increasingly littered with it. We're closing in on the usual end-of-season landing point (my god, am I ever getting bored with the 4th-place trophy jokes - it's bad enough from our rivals, but it's a dead horse even among our own now), and it's boring and frustrating. Most of the players are woefully out of form. I get it.
But, this past weekend's match was as embarrassed as I've ever been as a Gooner.
This weekend, a small minority of knob-ends tried to make themselves the story, and all it accomplished was making our entire club look like a prize bunch of complete wankers. At least here in the States, NBC couldn't contain their glee at documenting the nursery-school fighting-over-blocks jackassery going on in the stands.
Somewhere, Herbert Chapman is spinning in his grave at RPMs usually reserved for the Daytona 500.
The thing is, if you've been reading this with any regularity, you'll know that I'm one who believes that we're past due for change. I believe that people can get too comfortable in a role, their ways can get calcified, the world around them can speed up and consequently leave them behind. Especially now in this money-sloshed future world, where promoted clubs can buy the sorts of players that used to go to Schalke or Sevilla, what Arsene Wenger does doesn't work anymore. Results have proven it.
However - and this is a London-sized however - all of this petty nonsense accomplishes nothing other than to hurt the team's on-field performance. It's bad enough they're struggling, but this cannot help but be in the back of their minds. At my own humble Sunday-league level, I've found it hard to climb out of the troughs that I've found myself in at times (my team won 7-4 last night, but I told the guys at the bar after it'd have been 7-1 if we'd put a cardboard cutout in goal instead of me - shit happens, you know?). I can't imagine having to do so with a wanky protest going on in the middle of the game.
Despite all that, I was happy for Arsene when his second-half substitution worked as well as it did. Olivier Giroud did not have a great (or even good) match overall, but the boos that rained down when Alex Iwobi was withdrawn instead of him were appalling. Nanoseconds later, it was Giroud's perfectly-cushioned header that Danny Welbeck was able to slam past John Ruddy's dive and into the corner of the net.
Besides that, Petr Cech saved our asses again with two quality saves from Nathan Redmond. Defensively we looked OK, even when Per Mertesacker hobbled off with an injury. Whatever I've said about him in the past (and I still don't think he's good enough), Gabriel did make one excellent saving tackle to preserve the lead.
Other results did go our way, too. Manchester City rested most of their first team and got walloped by Southampton, while their cross-town rivals were held to a draw by Leicester City. All told, I feel a lot better about top four than I did going in, especially with what should be a dead-cert banker against Aston Villa to close the season.
Note, I said SHOULD.
In the meantime, hopefully the protestile dysfunction displayed this weekend will put a stop to this nonsense for now. He's going to be the manager next season, he's probably going to get a contract extension because LOLKROENKE, we may as well get used to it. Nothing's going to change it, least of all your dumbass little A4 cards.
Man of the Match: What an important goal that may turn out to be by Dat Guy Welbz.