Manager Arsene Wenger did not start Alexis Sanchez, the player many Arsenal fans believe is the team's best player. He also didn't start Mesut Ozil, the team's actual best player.
In both cases, it was for good reason. Ozil was sick, and didn't even make the trip.
Alexis (the Chilean is nearly always referred to by his first name, in the South American tradition) was benched as punishment. In spite of his goalscoring record, he has failed to score when the team needed it most. He is a good-looking muscular prima donna who pads his stats when they're not needed, but when he's truly needed, he does a Jimmy Hoffa. He is the Alex Rodriguez of soccer, minus the steroids. (As far as we know.)
And if that were the extent of it, that would be bad enough. It isn't. He routinely yells at his teammates, and apparently there was an incident at training (practice) this week.
He has become, as we would say in this country, a clubhouse cancer. And he cost Arsenal £31.7 million. Considering how much he cost, he is the biggest bust in Arsenal history.
Arsenal trailed 2-0 at halftime, and Wenger, who rarely makes substitutions before the 70th minute except for injury, brought Alexis on for the 2nd half. He assisted Danny Welbeck on the Arsenal goal, but they came no closer.
That was because of Petr Cech. Once the goalkeeper at Chelsea, he was bought from them cheap. We have seen why he was so cheap: He is washed-up.
The alleged Arsenal fans who demand that Wenger "spend some fucking money" have wanted a lot of players. Many of them were not bought, and fizzled out quickly. Alexis and Cech were players they wanted who were brought in, because these people believe that they are entitled to win the Premier League championship, and that Alexis and Cech would be key to this.
Instead, they have been liabilities.
I warned them. In discussions on Facebook and Twitter, I told them Cech was washed up. And I told them that Alexis was from Barcelona, and, like Barcelona product Cesc Fabregas before him, he couldn't be trusted.
I wish I had been proven wrong. I have been proven right. We are no closer to the title than when we got them.
Somehow, in the diseased minds of the Wenger Out Brigade (WOB), the failure of the players they demanded is Wenger's fault. They want a new manager who will spend big on "world-class" players.
Wenger has already done this. Laurent Koscielny. Shkodran Mustafi. Olivier Giroud. Ozil. And Alexis.
If only we had a world-class striker, they say. Wenger has passed on Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain, and "messed up" the attempt to get Luis Suarez.
These people don't get it. If Alexis and Cech didn't work out, why would those others have?
It's like the Beatles. Ringo Starr was not as good a drummer as Keith Moon of The Who. They would have benched Ringo to and signed Keith. But that would have ruined the Beatles.
These people play FIFA 17 and win the Champions League with Ipswich Town, and they believe they know more about soccer than the man who has won 3 Premier League titles (though none since 2004) and 6 FA Cups, and has never finished lower than 4th or behind arch-rival Tottenham, and finished 2nd just last season.
They believe they know more than Wenger. They don't. They say he is the only thing that hasn't changed. This is a lie: An unending string of injuries and countless screwings from referees have also been constants. The WOB call this "excuses."
Wenger Outers are like Trump fans: They like easy answers that they don't have to think about, and don't care if they are actually harmful.
Wenger's contract runs out at the end of the season. If he signs a new one, their vile abuse of the greatest manager in the club's history will soar even from the height it now holds.
They want change. Manchester United saw Alex Ferguson retire, and they haven't done as well as Arsenal since. The demand for "change" has ruined clubs. Nottingham Forest fired Brian Clough, and haven't been in the top flight since. Leeds United let Howard Wilkinson go, and have been a joke since. Liverpool let Kenny Dalglish go, and haven't won the League since. (Even bringing "King Kenny" back didn't work, beyond a single League Cup.)
The WOB say Arsenal are "in a real mess now." My God, do you know how many fans would love to see their team have our problems, and no worse? Our "mess" would be considered their "spectacular success."
Should Arsenal have a higher standard than that? Why? This is a historic club with many past successes, but nobody is entitled to have success.
Not the New York Yankees, not the Dallas Cowboys, not the Boston Celtics, not the Montreal Canadiens. Not Real Madrid, not AC Milan, not Glasgow Rangers. Not Manchester United, not Chelsea, not Liverpool.
And not Arsenal. The Queen may support Arsenal, but it's not like a defeat is an insult to her, or to God, or to any person, living or dead.
There is only one justifiable reason for Arsene Wenger to go. And that's so that he no longer has to put up with the garbage we've seen hurled at him by ungrateful wretches who would now be rooting for some other team if he had never come to Arsenal.
And those fans who demand that he be sacked simply because he hasn't finished first for a while? These same fans didn't demand that George Graham be sacked even as his team was finishing in actual midtable mediocrity, and behind Tottenham. (Graham was sacked in 1995, not because Arsenal were in 12th place, but because he'd been caught taking a bribe.)
Give up on Arsene now, and unless the next manager is his handpicked successor, and maybe even if it is, we will be doomed to a decade or more of darkness. It could make the late 1950s and early 1960s (a period of Arsenal history known as The Great Darkness) look like, well, 2014 and 2015 by comparison.
And suppose a new manager does come in. How long does he get to win the League? If he doesn't do it the first season, is that "an unacceptable failure"? If the collapse into actual midtable mediocrity is obvious by the middle of the second season, will they admit they were wrong?
As would be said over there, Will they fuck. They'll just demand another new manager, and the spending of even more obscene amounts of money.
While those of us who supported Wenger to the end will say what he will have too much class to say: "See? It wasn't me."
Wenger deserves better than to see Arsenal actually fall into a mess without him. So do his suporters.
But his abusers, still a loud, obnoxious, stupid but tiny minority of Arsenal fans, do deserve it.
Hours until The Arsenal play again: 28, tomorrow afternoon at 2:45 (7:45 in the evening, their time), home to Bayern Munich in an all-but-hopeless 2nd leg of their Champions League Round of 16 match. Arsenal can still win the FA Cup and qualify for next season's Champions League.
Days until the Red Bulls play again: 5, this Saturday afternoon at 4:00, home to the Colorado Rapids. Last night, they ruined the regular-season debut of expansion team Atlanta United, coming from a late 1-0 deficit to win 2-1. Not the most egregious choke by an Atlanta sports team this year, but this one helps me.
Days until the New Jersey Devils next play a local rival: 8, against the Philadelphia Flyers, on Thursday, March 16, at the Prudential Center. The next game against the New York Rangers is on Tuesday, March 21, at the Prudential Center. The next game against the New York Islanders is on Friday, March 31, at the Barclays Center.
Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 18, on Friday, March 24, home to Honduras, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, in a CONCACAF Qualifying Match for the 2018 World Cup. It will be the team's 1st competitive match in the 2nd run as manager for Bruce Arena, now that Jurgen Klinsmann has finally, mercifully, been fired.
Days until the Yankees' 2017 season opener: 27, on Sunday, April 2, at 8:00 PM, away to the Tampa Bay Rays. A little under 4 weeks.
Days until the Yankees' 2017 home opener: 35, on Monday, April 10, at 1:00 PM, home to the Rays.
Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 40, against D.C. United, on Saturday, April 15, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. They will next play the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, May 6, at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. They will next play the New England Revolution on Saturday, May 27, at Red Bull Arena. And they will next play a Hudson River Derby against New York City FC on Saturday, June 24, at Red Bull Arena.
Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 50, on Tuesday, April 25, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park.
Days until the next North London Derby: 55, on Sunday, April 30, at White Hart Lane, for the last time, before Spurs' old stadium us mercifully demolishednto make way for the new one. This game was moved from the 29th to accommodate the TV networks. It is also possible that Arsenal could face Tottenham again this season, through a pairing in the Semifinal or the Final of the FA Cup.
Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 180, on Saturday, September 2, 2017, home to the University of Washington. Under 6 months.
Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the 2017 schedule hasn't been released yet. If history is any guide, it will be on Friday night, September 15, which would be 193 days from now.
Days until the next election for Governor of New Jersey: 246, on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Just 8 months.
Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 250, on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.
Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 262, on Thursday morning, November 23, 2017, at 10:00. A little over 8 months, and thank God it's at home at Jay Doyle's grove, rather than at the purple shit pit on Route 9.
Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 465, on June 14, 2018. Under a year and a half, or a little over 15 months. Now that Klinsmann has been fired, our chances have improved, but did he already ruin them? Or will Trump ruin them? Maybe, with the tournament on his soil, Putin will tell Trump to tell Bruce Arena to tank the games. Maybe not. Or maybe just if we end up playing Russia.
Days until the next Congressional election: 610, on November 6, 2018. Under 2 years, or 21 months.
Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 674, on January 9, 2019. Under 2 years, or 22 months.
Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 1,045, on January 8, 2020. Under 3 years, or 34 months.
Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,238, on July 24, 2020. Under over 3 1/2 years, or a little over 39 months.
Days until the next Presidential election: 1,340, on November 3, 2020. Under 4 years, or a little under 44 months.
Days until Liberation Day: 1,416, at noon on January 20, 2021. A little under 4 years, or a little over 46 months.