Maybe Jenkinson should do the team talks
Every team will lose football matches. Even Arsenal's Invincibles came up against a 12 man team they could not beat eventually. There is essentially nothing wrong with getting beaten, just so long as you don't allow it to happen through your own failings. I can handle Arsenal losing (I won't say "I don't mind Arsenal losing" as that would be a lie) just so long as the requisite effort has been in evidence. A number of high profile defeats over the years have come in spite of the best efforts of those on the pitch. Sometimes we've lost because the referee has cost us the match. Other times we've lost because the opposition goalkeeper has played the absolute game of their lives. Occasionally we've lost because the other team is simply better than Arsenal. There is no shame in any of those kinds of defeats. I remember coming away from the home match with Newcastle in December 2001, and leaving Old Trafford at the end of the 49 game unbeaten run, safe in the knowledge that we had been beaten by the outrageous decisions of referees. There is a certain comfort in that sort of defeat. Despite the obvious injustice of the loss I believe supporters can feel at least proud that the players have shown the respect Arsenal deserves by putting themselves out on the pitch. However, defeats like yesterday do not fall in to any of those categories.
There are occasions in football where you don't always get what you deserve. The 2001 FA Cup Final is a case in point. Arsenal played Liverpool off the pitch, yet we came away from Cardiff having let yet another trophy slip through our fingers. Conversely we somehow escaped from Wales with the spoils after being dismal against Man Utd in 2005. That game was the exception that proves the rule, however. Invariably in football if you play with a lack of desire and effort you will almost always get what you deserve. It's often said that good sides will win games despite playing poorly, and that is undoubtedly true. But the difference there is that those good sides will be always trying, despite performing below par. Their determination will overcome the poor form. If you don't have that determination in the first place then you will lose the game. Nobody can tell me that the Arsenal team yesterday showed any determination or any effort whatsoever (with one exception, who I will come to below). If you combine a lack of basic desire with poor play then you lose 1-0 away at Norwich City.
Arsene Wenger told us after the game that Arsenal maybe "underestimated" Norwich. That is simply unacceptable and unprofessional. There is no excuse for such behaviour. Of course this is not the first time we've heard this from Wenger in the past 12 months. I said after we first heard it (and I've said it many times before and since) that Arsene Wenger should be sacked for such statements. He is paid a fortune not to underestimate the opposition. The players take the lead from their Manager, so is it really any surprise that the performance yesterday was so insipid in view of this admission from the Manager that he had failed to appreciate the threat posed by Norwich? I'm fed up of hearing it. Put together with the news that Arsenal flew from Luton to Norwich in an aeroplane journey lasting less than 15 minutes it really is no wonder that our players looked so comfortable in doing nothing. A fifteen minute flight? That is decadence on a level that is an insult to those of us that pay to watch Arsenal - at least we know where the money is going that should be getting spent on players of better quality.
One player came out of yesterday with a little credit, and that was Carl Jenkinson. We shouldn't be surprised that the only Arsenal player to put in a shift was the only Arsenal supporter in the team. Jenkinson is the one who will perform in the way that each of us would given the talent and the opportunity. I have no doubt that Jenkinson's Grandad would be exceptionally proud of him if he could see the way he has improved since joining Arsenal. If the other players in the side yesterday had performed anything like he did then we might just have got ourselves the right result. It wouldn't harm the players to listen to Jenkinson giving the tubthumping speeches from now on - at least he could convey the feelings of those of us on the terraces. Frank McLintock told us last Sunday what he would do in the changing rooms to the likes of Arshavin given the opportunity - he could have feasted on a whole team yesterday.
Hopefully there'll be something a bit more positive to write about tomorrow evening.