The 2013/14 Arsenal FC away jersey is bright yellow with a confident blue collar. It filled me with optimism. The kit screamed happiness. It harkened back to the away kit of 03/04, to glory, to The Invincibles team, and to perfection. I bought this jersey for $133. I ate canned soup and noodles for a month. I checked the mailbox every day. I stared at the shirt. I waited for the first game of the season. I put it on. I sat on the couch. I watched 90 minutes of soccer. I became depressed. Arsenal lost to Aston Villa 1-3. I lost my sanity.
All summer I drank the Kool-Aid. In Arsene Wenger we trust.
“The professor has a plan!” I shouted.
Into a mirror.
Other teams snatched up Arsenal targets.
“Yes. All a part of the master plan, look at the all the players we sold, Julien! Arshavin. Djourou. Santos. Squillaci. Gervinho. Wenger filled the pockets to spend. SPEND. SPEND. SPEND”
I said to the frozen pizza section at Target.
Arsenal didn’t buy a single player.
“Have some faith, Julien! Remember team chemistry. They played together all last season. They know one another. This is something one cannot simply buy”
“Oh I remembered that, Other Julien. That only applies if everyone is injury free. Is that the case?”
“How many defenders do we have for the Champions League qualifier on Wednesday?”
“How many do we need?”
“How many times are you going to cry during the game in Turkey against Fenerbahce?”
“Eat this pile of 3.5 floppy disk you found in the storage room at work, you idiot”
“It doesn’t taste good. My gums are bleeding. Please make me stop”
The problem with the first game was expectations. We celebrated last season’s fourth place finish like it meant something. The only achievement being: it was not fifth. This embarrassed us. We should fight for first place. Not settle. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis agreed. He spent the bulk of summer telling anyone with a microphone how much money the team had to spend. Images of Arsenal as monsters of Europe popped into my head. He stopped short of filling a swimming pool with gold doubloons and splashing around Scrooge McDuck style. No longer will we be pillaged by bigger teams. We will be the pirates. We will burn teams to the ground, take their women, and enslave their children. Yet, the best we could do is beg the prison dog for the keys to escape.
It is difficult to find optimism in the yellow shirt after Saturday. Did I put too much faith in a NASA tech filled sports jersey? Perhaps. Was it unjust? No. I was lied to. They promised the world. They delivered a dying star. One game into the season and already I think about the what if’s. I can only respond with a heavy sigh. Hopefully Chesley Sullenberger is at the control panel of this plane crash.
Every month I will recap my experience with Arsenal during the 2013/14 English Premier League season. Hopefully you can find enjoyment in the dark depths of what my sanity can become. See you in a month.