Arsenal Is No Longer A Football Club, Just A Sad Meme

There’s an old Deana Carter country album titled “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” that runs through my head every time Arsenal has an early-morning Premier League match. Did I wake up for this?

It’s all become sadly predictable now. Arsenal starts a game against a big club brightly, looking dangerous in the opening minutes. Then the opponent scores on its first attack at the other end and it all falls apart, usually with the Gunners conceding a penalty kick or pick up a red card. Such was the case once again in the Arsenal’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City on Saturday, the Gunners’ third straight scoreless defeat to open the Premier League season.

Arsenal is no longer a football club. The once-proud institution now exists only to be turned into sad memes, only to produce banter. The whole footballing world is in on the joke, except for the poor Gooners who subject themselves to this torture week after week, a group of which I am sadly a member.

Less than two decades ago, Arsenal was the best club in England and played for Champions League titles. Now the Gunners are the laughingstock of the league. 

Manchester City was good, as it always is, but Arsenal was particularly bad on Saturday. Calum Chambers was shockingly poor on City’s first and third goals, but the entire defense was clueless. The midfield was overrun, and the forwards couldn’t do anything in their limited opportunities. 

Granit Xhaka committed the now-obligatory Arsenal red card, lunging in with two feet to be sent off 35 minutes in. Gooners wish they could’ve opted out in the 35th minute, too. Arsenal has now been shown 10 red cards in the Premier League since Mikel Arteta took over at the end of 2019, four more than any other club. 

Arsenal fans in the stadium began heading for the exits before halftime. Fans across the U.S. went the fuck back to bed.

Again, it was all so predictable. Ever since the ignominious 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in August 2011, Arsenal fans have PTSD every time they see their club face off against a top team. At least after that 2011 loss, Arsene Wenger still led the Gunners to a top-four finish. Last season Arsenal finished eighth and it’s hard to see this team doing any better.

It’s also hard to imagine Arteta surviving this defeat. There are extenuating circumstances — a long injury list included Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pépé, Ben White, Hector Bellerin and Pablo Marí. There were questionable calls — Chambers was punched in the face during City’s second goal. But there was also no sign Arsenal is any better than what it showed on Saturday, finishing with a fucking pathetic 19 percent possession, breaking the previous club low set back in 2003 by 12 points.

Arsenal isn’t in the Premier League to win; Stan Kroenke has made that much clear. Arsenal is in the Premier League to meme.

It’s a joke even the Premier League seems to be in on. Arsenal was made to open the season at Premier League newbie Brentford for fans’ return to the stadium, followed by matches against Champions League winner Chelsea and Premier league champion Manchester City. Starting the season with three losses seemed probable even before the Gunners took the pitch against the Bees, but doing so by a combined 9-0 was still shocking. At least Saturday’s match was on Peacock so fewer fans were subjected to the horror.

While Saturday’s 5-0 defeat wasn’t the worst Arsenal defeat in history in the Prem — that belongs to the 8-2 to United and 6-0 to Chelsea in 2014 — it was yet another low for a club that always finds a new nadir every season. 

At this point, is it even funny for neutrals? Spurs fans are probably still enjoying their time on top in North London, but beyond that, when does it become beating a dead horse?

I’d argue yes, it’s still funny for neutrals, because there’s nothing the internet does better than sad memes beating up on someone going through a rough time. As I’ve long said, England’s greatest export is schadenfreude, and Saturday was no different.

To top it all off, Arsenal is shooting an All Or Nothing documentary with Amazon this season. At this rate, Amazon is going to have to change the genre of the series from sports to comedy. 

Oh bittersweet.

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