The Sting In The Tale
“Boy, why were you crying?”
“Don't have a mother,” he said.
“O Peter, no wonder you were crying,” she said, and got out of bed and ran to him.
“I wasn't crying about mothers,” he said rather indignantly. “I was crying because I can't get my shadow to stick on. Besides, I wasn't crying.”
~ Extracted from “Peter Pan”, by J.M. Barrie
So… after an interminably vacuous Interlull, our intrepid team regathers to take on Southampton this weekend. We seem to have dodged a bullet: no real injuries to our squad as they scattered across the globe to perform their International duties.
I say “real injuries”. Apparently Diaby has “muscular discomfort”. Which muscle, exactly? My eyelid sometimes twitches, making it look like I'm winking. When riding on public transport with shady-looking gangsters, this has caused me some discomfort, too. Hopefully that's all it is. It would be a pity if history repeated itself, and dear Abou spent the rest of this season being nursed. Paid and nursed. Especially since he's turning out to be the 'great new signing' Wenger has promised for so many seasons.
It'd be like reeling a very big fish to the edge of the boat, only to have it slip over the side as you remove it from the hook. Except with Diaby it'd be an octopus.
At the start of the season, it's inevitable that there is an inordinate amount of expectation. Trepidation. We have three new players, two of whom seem to have hit the ground running. The other seems to have hit the ground running too fast, which unfortunately affects his accuracy somewhat.
Yes, I'm referring to our new beau, Olivier Giroud. In case you didn't know: he shared the accolade of Ligue Un top-scorer last season. And Wenger thinks he is rather beautiful, in a strictly non-homo-erotic managerial way, of course. Unfortunately, Monsieur Giroud has inherited the Golden Boot position vacated by you-know-who, who went over to the Dark Side.
Bearing in mind that we're only 3 games into the season, thus far it hasn't been a Cinderella story. The Golden Boot didn't miraculously shape-shift round that fine French foot, instantly transforming Olivier into a goal-rich Prince Charming. Indeed, his scoring attempts have been a little more Goldilocks and the Three Bears-ish: too soft, too hard… Giroud's Arsenal goal-locker makes Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard seem loaded.
What has this got to do with Peter Pan? I hear you grumble…
Well – the plight of a Gooner is often-times paradoxical. We are constantly juggling two slippery eels: Optimism and Pessimism. How many times in the past few years have we found ourselves in the perfect position to end our silverware drought, only to have our hopes dashed by startlingly clumsy performances? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Arsenal never seem to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Regarding Giroud: everybody – from the Manager, to the player, and the majority of us fans – has called for some Realism to be added into the mix. (Realism apparently makes eels less slippery). But like the Boy Who Never Grew Up, who is crying because he doesn't have a mother, but isn't crying: the temptation to dive into that glistening, acid pool of Expectation is just too hard to resist, hard as we try.
The Arsenal fairy tale du jour is that Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp AND Robin van Persie all opened their Arsenal league goal-scoring accounts against Southampton:
- Wright – September 1991, in his 6th appearnace
- Bergkamp – September 1995, in his 8th appearance
- Henry in September 1999, in his 9th appearance (came on as a sub)
- van Persie – October 2004, in his 6th appearance
This storyline is just too good to pass up.
Much as we're all loathe to admit it, we've allowed our inner Peter Pans to hop on board the Hogwart Express, bound for Narnia. The shame of it all is that we've dragged Giroud along with us. And if he's struggling to find the back of the net from 8 yards, isn't it a little too much to expect him to assume the lead role in a fairy tale?
We should all take a big dose of Realism; find our shadows and make them stick.
Give the lad some time.