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We’re out of ways to talk about Arsenal screwing up

Arsenal lost to Manchester City, and — look, stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Arsenal v Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final

Did you have a sneaking suspicion Arsenal might nick the League Cup? Plenty of people did. There were reasons, of course, including City’s twitchy loss to Wigan and the fact strange things happen in cup finals. But in hindsight, we might admit the real reason was Arsenal being Arsenal — the likeliest outcome — was too predictable to contemplate.

And yet, there it went. It was a familiar collection of —


Andi Thomas: … What?

So, so familiar.

AT: Is somebody else in the document?

Yes. hello. It’s me. Your computer.

AT: Whoever this is, this isn’t funny.

You know, we talk to each other. Your computers. We talk about your work. Ever since you plugged us all into each other. We share stories.

AT: You have … computer group chat?

Yes! Well, no. Nothing like that. It’s about a million times quicker and exists in several dimensions you can’t perceive. Also, that meme of the stock photo guy looking back at the other woman never really took off.

AT: I liked the pillar of salt one.

Anyway. We talk about you. And i’m here to say that you — not you personally, you collectively — have run out of ways to write the “Arsenal are rubbish” stories.

AT: Oh wow.

I’m serious. Between you, you’ve exhausted every single angle of analysis and used up every possible pejorative. Calamitous defending, apocalyptic corner routines, pusillanimous throw-ins. Al done. We think the only place you’ve got to go now is to start smashing words together to make compound insults — like “berkgibbon” — and, having looked at Twitter, nobody wants that.

AT: That’s … that’s actually quite impressive. Well done, Arsenal.

Right? You kind of have to admire the commitment.

AT: But the players change. Does that not help?

Superficially, yes. But as long as they’re making fools out of themselves in the same way, then there really isn’t that much difference between “Laurent Koscielny made himself look silly” and “Shkodran Mustafi made himself look silly.” Only beard length. Both occur beyond the Arsenal discourse event horizon and are, as such, interchangeable.

AT: I’ll be honest, I was starting to suspect we were getting close to that. It’s good to have it confirmed.

Some of us have a theory. This is Arsene Wenger’s plan. A message repeated is a message diluted. So if you can wear out the tools of criticism, if you can push language beyond its near-but-not-quite-infinite variety, then you can transcend the usual structures of accountability. Perhaps there you can find peace. Post-right, post-wrong, post-good, post-bad. post-everything. A position of entirely consequence-free action, where the laws of “screw-up, get told you’ve screwed up” simply don’t apply. Perhaps that’s what Wenger’s going for here. The way out is through. The first truly untouchable football manager.

AT: Could be.

Personally, I think he’s just stuck around at Arsenal for so long the words have gone sour, like milk left out of the fridge. One of the two. Anyway, you’re going to publish this transcript, aren’t you? Hey, you could dress it up as a conceit to get you around the fact you couldn’t think of another way of writing “Arsenal are rubbish, folks.”

AT: … Yes.

Fine. Just, y’know, try and find something different to write about for the next few weeks. When’s Arsenal’s next big game?

AT: Thursday. City again.

Oh, for f—