Have the Gunners Disappeared?
Of Once Was
Le Professeur. The Flying Dutchman. Titi. Le Canard. These are some of the names that have brought great joy and honor to North London. Like superheroes, they flew. Unstoppable they were. Invincibles they were called. This was Arsenal.
These names have (and will always be) etched in the hallowed halls of Highbury. They would conquer English football and carve their names in football lore. No team would be greater that season. No one could beat them. They were Arsenal.
To this day I would marvel at how good they were, looking at clips online, checking out old pictures. Sipping coffee while gawking at their technique, formation, determination and god-like stature, I often catch myself drooling over their accomplishments. I still remember how I would lightly rub it my dad's face that my Arsenal team remained unbeaten even if his Manchester United team was the team for the ages (to be fair, my late father believed in that claim). Alas, that was then.
Now, qualifying for the Champion's League , winning the FA Cup twice in three years and a Community Shield are all that they have to show for. What once was an unstoppable force has now been reduced to a ridiculed, guffawed football club; a group of also-rans and quite possibly's. Invincibles they are no more.
There have been much talk about what caused this great decline. From stingy transfer market dealings to unrealized potential, from a string of injury plagued seasons to the lack of talent in the market, from the board being mismanaged to Le Professeur overstaying his welcome. I've heard them all. All these reasons compound to a very aggravated fan base, fleeting hope and a nagging sense of reviled mediocrity. Unfortunately, this is Arsenal now.
A mind-numbing loss to Liverpool on the first day of the 2016/2017 season has seen the manager confronted with immense criticism (I'm putting this mildly) going down the tunnel. Banners strewn everywhere asking for Wenger to leave. Where once was pride has now been filled with doubt. Cheers have been replaced with jeers. Unity has been replaced with division. These instances now beg the question: Where are THE Arsenal?