26 July 2014

Chambers, Ospina, and my terrible weekend...

Ugh. What a lost weekend. Not only did everyone I know fail to buy me a plane-ticket to New York City and match-day ticket to watch Henry's assist to Wrighty's son, no one else I don't know also failed to buy me the same. Worse, or better, depending on how you slice things, the match itself was a bit tepid, ending in a 1-0 win for the hosts. If there's a silver lining, it's in the fact that Henry showed us all that he still has something to offer, and no Gunners got injured. Whether that counts as two silver linings is too much for me to contemplate, as I'm still recovering from the Tottenham invasion of my hometown, an invasion that culminated in Spurs actually defeating a team in red for once. To top things off, we still don't quite know what if anything is going on with Chambers, Ospina, or anyone else we're apparently pursuing. What a life.

For those of us who watched the Red Bulls-Gunners match, we got what we deserved: a lackluster match in which Arsenal fielded a hodge-podge of players (Rosick√Ĺ as center-forward? Okay...) and basically went through the paces. As I put it in elsewhere, Americans got to see Arsenal without booking a flight, renting a room, coping with everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, or figuring out whether 'centre' is pronounced differently from 'center'. On this side of the pond, we're more or less comfortable with pitch (not field), match (not game), and of course football (not soccer). It gets a bit dicey when you ask us about boots, kits, and squads. Are we Yanks to use them, are would this sound too much like we're trying too hard to impress?

Speaking of trying to impress, I hope it's not too churlish (eh?) to ask for a bit more flair from the lads today. Absent a few moments here and there, I felt like I was watching two mid-table squads squabble without having to worry about relegation or promotion. So it goes. Still, the match had its moments, such as when Wilshere tried to recreate the pornogol against Norwich, but there's not much to take from it. The sky-is-falling crowd will point to Red Bulls' goal as evidence that we cannot defend set-pieces. That is their wont. The fun part of being in that crowd, much like being a 'reporter' for The Daily Mail or others, is that you need only be right about 1% of the time to earn the right to say, "See? I told you!"

Speaking of rumor-mongers, it appears that we're about as close to signing Ospina and Chambers as we were a week ago. With Saturday's match, it's understandable that there wouldn't be any dramatic announcements over the weekend. Let Henry and other Gunners enjoy the limelight. Maybe we'll see a new Gunner unveiled on Monday. As enticing as that may be, we'd likely be looking at back-ups or supports rather than upgrades. Ospina, for all of his statistical prowess, may challenge but not supplant Szczesny as our #1 keeper. A bit of competition would be welcome, if only to keep the Woj on his toes, but it's not the kind of signing that vaults us to the top of the Prem. Similarly with Chambers, I'd welcome the signing despite my misgivings over raiding the carcass that Southampton is rapidly becoming. I don't see how it would dramatically intensify our squad. Competing with Debuchy, Chambers would surely grow and improve, but the same could be said of Jenkinson.

As irritating as all of this gossip is, it's a far-cry better than having to witness the abomination that is Spurs arriving in Chicago. Worse, they actually won. Will wonders never cease? As I'm sure we all know, Arsenal's loss, coupled with Spurs' win, can only spell out one conclusion: Arsenal will once again finish above Spurs. It follows as surely as four follows two plus two. This doesn't do much to alleviate my own personal suffering. I felt one part missionary, one part martyr, explaining why one should follow Arsenal and not Tottenham. It was miserable, worse than rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic. That the Fire rolled over for Spurs hardly made my job any easier, as those Spuds could proudly proclaim victory. It was a jarring, unexpected outcome, and the various Spuds in attendance didn't quite know what to make of it, as celebration is to them a foreign concept.

All in all, these visits are like oases in the desert, as our MLS is still largely a retirement-community for the Prem, and any chance to see the Prem's best and brightest—or, failing that, Spurs—is like manna from Heaven. Speaking of which, may a few more signings come our way before too long...