As a new soccer fan entering Year Two of my great experiment following the Gunners, scope is something I’ve realized can only be gained by experience.
Where my remedial knowledge of formations and the overall makeup of the Barclays Premiere League will improve with time, having a proper sense of my emotions throughout the season is an important part of really experiencing soccer fanfare.
Last season, Arsenal started extremely strong and had title hopes until points started to slip away. A Carling Cup finals loss to an inferior squad signaled the slow death spiral the season would take on, and I watched helplessly as things fell apart in the final weeks of the campaign.
That season, however, hasn’t properly prepared me for this one. Arsenal’s captain is gone, so is arguably its second best player, who hit the road shortly thereafter. Adding to that are a rash of injuries that have ravished the club early on. It feels as though the back end is tied together with bundles of sticks, and it showed on Sunday as Manchester United dropped eight goals on the Gunners, which is 14 less than it felt like they scored.
“It is definitely the worst day for Arsene Wenger in charge and it is even the worst day for a long time in Arsenal’s history. Since I started there in 1984, I cannot remember much worse than what we have seen here. It was shocking, just shocking.”
Armed with my new-found knowledge it’s safe to say my apocalyptic interpretation of Sunday morning’s disaster were accurate. Arsenal is sinking fast and needs help; aid that needs to come before the transfer window closes. That’s just three days before a long stretch of soccer where the only way to improve your club is to nurture bodies in recovery. If panic is not your thing, the impending sense of doom is making American Arsenal fans break out the whiskey pretty early on Saturday mornings these days.
As absolutely terrifying a narrative this season is taking on, I have to admit a certain sense of comfort in the familiarity I have with this story’s arc. Watching a struggling soccer team filled with little hope was decidedly NOT what I signed up for here, but it does fit the mold I’ve grown used to here in Buffalo.
While the intricacies of soccer may still allude me at times, the emotion it is producing these days has a hollow familiarity to it I can’t help but remember. I hoped positioning an ocean between myself and my soccer team could prevent such emotions from hitting home, but despair tends to run quite deep.