Fools Rule (Part 3) – Gunners Divine
Let me just make it quite clear that I am not an evolutionary psychologist. I don't think I even know one, personally. But there is a guy called Ken Wilber who is probably one – he certainly makes all the right noises you'd expect an evolutionary psychologist (EP) to make. If EPs were guitarists, I bet he'd know ALL the chords to Smoke On The Water, not just the opening Duh-Duh-Duuuh, Duh-Duh-DuDuuuh that is the equivalent of a baby's first “Gaga”, and the bane of guitar shops worldwide.
Ken Wilber has written a lot of books, most of them very long. I've read the opening chapters of some of them, until suddenly my brain got really, really full and I had to go and lie down and just think abut nothing for a bit. Little snippets (snipplets?) of his work have stayed in my head all these years, lurking amongst the deep thoughts, waiting for the right opportunity to arise. This may just be it…
One of the snipplets – I think from a book called “No Boundary” – basically stated that us humans managed to evolve to our present level because of our brain's ability to recognize and store patterns. We're apparently rather good at it. And because it is an essential element of our rise up the food chain, we get a good feeling doing it – which is Evolution's way of making sure we do it a lot.
Is it a bird? is it a plane? is it Superman? No, wait… It's just dust on the lens.
You notice it all the time: the checkout teller shrilling at the lady in front of you: “OMG! I have exactly the same earrings at home… so what's yer Star Sign..!?“; people seeing Jesus in their toast, or shapes in clouds. It's programmed in our DNA – we recognize patterns and then we give them meaning. It got us where we are, we're good at it, we like doing it, and we don't know how to stop it.
So it always amuses me when I see us connecting dots where there may not be any. Its the gift and the curse of the statistician: you can take almost any collection of data and twist it into a perfectly reasonable-sounding fairy tale. And because numbers are like words in white coats, they carry a weight that sometimes disguises their vacuity.
Take the Southampton debut goal saga from last week… There was an unavoidable desire to thread a line through history from Wright, through Henry, Bergkamp and van Persie to Giroud. Similarly, we've taken the fact that Bould is now in the coaching team, and extrapolated that to mean that we now have, probably have, possibly have an invincible defence. A few clean sheets and a scrappy protection of our lead against Montpellier, and our neurons have all put on their welding helmets and are busy hard-wiring those connections.
“I used to do drugs. I still do drugs. But I used to, too.”
~ Mitch Hedberg
There are still a few worrying defensive signs to which we should pay equal heed: the ability for opponents to get behind Mertesacker into the space created by an ambitious Jenkinson; a tendency to get a little panicky when clearing; and toying with borderline challenges in the penalty area. The rise and fall of Szczesny and Mannone may cause unnecessary headaches for the manager, and will undoubtedly place a little more stress on our back four. Neither an in-form Italian or an out-of-form Pole are ideal, especially when we have City and Chelsea coming up next.
Besides – we can't always rely on the goal posts to facilitate a win. (Except against Liverpool, perhaps, who seem to hit the woodwork four or five times a game…)
I warned in an earlier post that Abou Diaby's injury concerns weren't the only demons he had to face: he had to control his reckless streak. Having 11 players on the pitch is a good thing. Being yellow carded after 20 seconds against Montpellier – and then flirting with a second yellow (and sending-off) on way too many occasions after that – is unforgiveable. When he's in full flight, striding downfield, he's a joy to behold. But when Diaby's diddling about in defence, or stabbing his stilts willy-nilly, it's heart-in-mouth stuff. Old habits die hard.
“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town”
~ George Carlin
Our forehead-endowed Ivorian stuck a few into the back of the net in recent games, and we're clinging to the hope that he might have shucked the bad mojo that latched onto him after his miserable 2012 AFCON outing. It'd be wise not to read too much into his current form, especially so early in the season. Nasri, Walcott, Chamakh… they all went through their Midas periods. The Manure periods were never far behind.
Likewise, the hapless Giroud, who is enduring a frustrating start to his Arsenal career. It's vital that we relieve some of the pressure on him – an observation that I believe is pretty universally acknowledged – though there are still the endless, hopeful predictions bouncing around Twitter and the blogosphere. I think Wenger is doing the right thing by not making Olly his central attacking focus. Although Arsene isn't famed for his tactical creativity – (in fact he maybe known more for his stubbornness and apparent inability to change) – he has made some smart moves of late: shuffling the strikeforce, making a false “9” of Gervinho, not relying on Walcott…
“I intend to live forever. So far so good.” ~ Steven Wright
Obviously, Wenger's fairly spoiled for choices, with Santi and Poldi firing on all cylinders, Jack back in training, Bac back soon, Gibbs, Jenks and the Ox improving in leaps and bounds… While recent results are promising, I think it's premature to even entertain the idea that Arsenal are out of the woodpile. The other big guns misfiring have enhanced our early success, but, as we all know – but often choose to forget – the season can turn on a dime.
I accidentally left a plate of strawberries and cream out overnight. When I came into the kitchen this morning, the strawberries had browned and the cream looked decidedly jaundiced. That got me thinking about Arsenal…
And how we shouldn't read too much into stuff.