Truly, there’s nothing funny about Arsenal any more | Arsenal


As a tea-timely email whose chief purpose is to try and mine comedy gold (or pyrite, at least) from the grim monolith that is modern football, we owe a lot to Arsenal. The Gunners’ most recent league title came in the 2003-04 Invincibles season, offering absolutely nothing to point and laugh at – but boy, oh boy, did they make up for it in the following years.

The Round of Arsenal! The relentless decline of the late-Wenger era! William Gallas’s sit-down protest! Gunnersaurus! The endless disquiet ringing around the Emirates Stadium, a world-class sporting venue utterly devoid of joy! Specialists in failure! This, for God’s sake! Big Cup final and Big Vase final defeats! Granit Xhaka’s X-rated rejoinder! Unai Emery!

For the best part of two decades, sure as night followed day, Arsenal would always find a way to Arsenal it up. When he first returned as manager, Mikel Arteta appeared set to fit seamlessly into this rich tapestry. He won the FA Cup – Arsenal’s traditional port in a storm – before the waves of a familiar narrative began crashing down on his head. There have been some bad nights at the Emirates, but the 1-0 defeat to Burnley in December 2020, in front of 2,000 returning fans whose howls of derision echoed into the night, must be right up there.

But then Arsenal did what Arsenal do not do – they held their nerve, and stuck with Arteta. It may be their best decision since opting for Wenger over Johan Cruyff back in 1996. They are truly a club transformed, currently the best team in England by a distance. When Marcus Rashford’s shot slapped the back of the net on Sunday to put Manchester United 1-0 up, that familiar here-we-go-again feeling was all too fleeting. They still have to play Manchester City twice, but like a Love Island contestant with their eyes on the prize, they are passing every test put in front of them with aplomb.

When the Premier League downed tools in early November, Arteta’s side were in a position where a trademark tumble from grace felt almost inevitable. We spent the HRWC break sharpening our pencils, anticipating their demise, but Arsenal have only got better. If not quite champions-elect, they are the clear frontrunners, having harnessed the eminently watchable, high-tempo creativity that was always there in bursts, even in the lean years, and married it to a mental resilience that was not. Truly, there’s nothing funny about Arsenal any more. And that makes us feel uneasy.

Where exactly are we supposed to point and laugh, I hear you ask? Ah, thank goodness for Everton. There is also plenty of comedy potential at Craven Cottage as Tottenham battle Fulham for the not-so-gilded title of London’s second-best team. Spurs are doing a nice job filling in for their rivals, playing soul-sapping football in a gleaming stadium to groaning fans. From fostering title aspirations of their own, their supporters are now left hoping Arteta’s mob let the Premier League trophy slip through their fingers, delivering the greatest pratfall of all just when we finally didn’t expect it. After all, this is still Arsenal we’re talking about. Right?!


Join Niall McVeigh from 8pm GMT for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Fulham 1-2 Tottenham.


“You could see from the opening minutes that it was like an ice rink down the sides. It’s not for managers to decide if it’s on – it’s up to the FA and officials. Investment has gone in to surfaces, the next stop is undersoil heating everywhere, we don’t live in Barbados” – Emma Hayes, Chelsea manager and Renowned Good Talker, delivers a succinct and withering take on the frozen pitches that blighted Sunday’s WSL action. Three of the five matches were called off.

A face of a thousand words.
A face of a thousand words. Photograph: Jacques Feeney/Offside/Getty Images

“United fans would rather lose to Arsenal than strengthen the chase of City. One just hopes that Arsenal does not arsenal it against their two encounters with City. Strange schedule that kept them away after 20 games!” – Krishnamoorthy.

“Is it just me or is anyone else totally bored at blanket coverage and endless mentions of Messi and Ronaldo? It really gets my GOAT” – John Myles.

“I’m surprised that no-ones commented on Danny Ings’s love of playing in claret and blue. A ray of hope for Firewall FC fans yet maybe?” – Nick Crowther.

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … John Myles.

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