Welcome to the new season! What fun! Thoughts as follows:
* It was good for five minutes. Rosicky received the ball, spun and released; Chamberlain played a delightful outside of the boot pass into the box; Giroud timed his run to perfection, and neatly slotted home. All was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
* And then we all woke up. The tantalizing five minutes of hope evaporated, and what we all knew came to pass - the club is a shambles, and so is the team. We can bang on about the terrible refereeing (and it was bad) but, again, it benefited us to an extent, such as when Woj rushed off his line and gave away a penalty through sheer, bloody-minded, terrible decision making. He should have been sent off, but instead had to suffer the indignity of saving a terrible penalty, only to palm it straight back to the penalty taker. Good times, 1-1.
* After the equalizer, did we ever look like winning it? I don't know. We seemed to get progressively more and more wound up, that's for sure. We bossed possession, but ended up with just four shots on target. That's pathetic. The referee, while terrible, can't be held to blame for the totally mediocre performance that we saw today.
* As for Szczesny - can we finally agree that he's just not that good? He was all over the place today - sprinting off his line for the penalty, rooted to the spot for the third goal, attempting to play midfield at one point when he came charging out of his box for no apparent reason. At this point, I don't care how good he might be - I want someone who's good today. We haven't bought a world-class keeper since 2003 - that is a disgrace, and who knows if Arsene even thinks it's a priority. Crazy. Begovic is openly available for around 15m. Buy him.
* After releasing almost all of our defenders this summer, and buying no-one in return, it was fitting that we got a defensive injury today, and a red-card for Koscielny. I'm almost surprised that chickens didn't literally come home to roost on the pitch, because the defensive shambles we saw today was months in the making.
* Koscielny was unlucky, but both cards were the result of us being overrun in midfield. Koscielny is a reactive defender, and if there is chaos, he reacts in turn with more chaos. He has now had multiple red cards during his time at the club, and, in all honesty, they all seem to be because of the chaos that is strewn across our side.
* The third goal - well, we're down to ten men and chasing the game, so it was almost inevitable. Szcz's positioning was so poor he might as well have just ushered the ball into the net.
* A few remarks on indviduals:
* Giroud scored. Other than that, he was utterly, totally, completely useless. Still, one more goal for the statisticians! Who cares if he moves slower than a snail, repeatedly misses the target, ambles around the pitch without a care in the world! Giroud will never, ever be good enough to start for a team with pretensions towards the title, but don't worry, he scored twice against Brighton last year!
* Walcott - what do you do, apart from the occasional useless set-piece? I wish we'd sold him last summer.
* Rosicky is the ultimate Emperor's new clothes player, a shining beacon of the mediocrity that has engulfed the club. He missed a one-on-one chance today by a margin that would have embarrassed Chris Kiwomya. He runs around a lot, has a nice few flicks, but he is a fundamentally limited player. Look at his goals and assists record for Arsenal - it's pathetic. He's mutton dressed as lamb, a Carling Cup player masquerading as a Champions League one.
* Wilshere - less aggro, more actual contribution please.
* Ramsey - a squad player. No more.
* Cazorla - so anonymous he could have committed the Zodiac murders.
* As I write this, van Persie has just scored a second goal for United. Two words: footballing. reasons.
* When the third goal went in, the boos rang out, and rightfully so. This is *The* Arsenal, one of the greatest sporting clubs in the world. Yet we have a dictator as manager who has now completely, lost the plot. One so wrapped into his world of absolute power, he vetoes deals for players that would manifestly improve the squad. Higuain? Pah. I refuse to pay his fee. Gustavo? Pah. Why pay his wages when we could get *three* Bendtner's for those wages.
We have all known, all summer, that this squad is not good enough. Spurs, who finished one point behind us last season, have spent big under the auspices of a young, energetic manager with new ideas.
I want, and have always wanted, Arsene to succeed. But it's time for a change. He has had three months to prepare for this date, and, instead, we put out a team that embarrassed Arsenal Football Club. That is dereliction of duty. That is allowing your own ego to outweigh the good of the club. Wenger was a genius. Now he is a sad, almost ironic, parody of his former self, a reactionary figure spewing falsehoods to keep himself in the job.
He has two weeks to do the job he had three months to complete. But, whether he finally gets the players we need or not, it's time for a change. The Emirates turned on Wenger today, and I think this is the beginning of the long, sad, slow end to his time as manager.
And I honestly think he only has himself to blame.