06 February 2016

Open letter to Benik Afobe: do be gentle...

Dearest Benik (and I mean that sincerely, post-dated to before your move to Wolverhampton)—
I do apologise sincerely and earnestly for the rough treatment you received upon your departure. After all, you'd been with Arsenal since you were just six years old. Six. Six. There are some who are still wearing training pants that are altogether different from what we normally discuss at that age. You've done some growing up since you left, and you've announced your return to the Prem in fine fashion—your form stands in stark contrast against our own, what with you scoring three goals in four appearances while none of your erstwhile teammates has scored for three full matches and then some. In other words, to some extent, we hope that you remember your time at Arsenal fondly enough to tread lightly upon your return. We may very well depend on your good graces...

Of course, we've stumbled lately, conceding a late equaliser at Anfield before forgetting how to score at all in the Prem, staggering through three entire matches without scoring, and with only a nervy 2-1 win over Burnley in the FA Cup to pacify the increasingly impatient hordes. To see how well you've done in the last few weeks (not to mention the preceding two years or so) gives us a case of the green-eyed gazungas, what with the misadventures of more-expensive misfirings of Walcott, Ramsey, and Ox; and the still-nascent developments of Gnabry, Zelalem, and Toral.

What role could you have played in the last season and a half instead of helping MK Dons and Wolverhampton earn promotion? Now that you're back in the Prem, you're reminding all of us just what you're capable of at precisely the wrong time. If you could just slow down just a little bit, we'd be very grateful.

We're currently in the midst of what amounts to our best and worst chance. At one end of the issue, the indifferent and uneven form of Man U, Liverpool, and Chelsea have created a very rare opening. At the other, the incredible and unprecedented form of Leicester and Totttenham have forced a more-serious reckoning. Between the two stands Bournemouth. Arsenal will arrive at Dean Court in desperate need of a win, especially after Leicester thrashed Man City at the Etihad and Tottenham escaped White Hart Lane with a razor-thin win. In other words, Benik, we're hoping you can reminisce, thinking back to the good ol' days in training with the likes of Akpom, Hayden, and Toral, among others. They're each progressing well, I'm sure you're happy to know, but none of them has made good quite as well as you have.

Make no mistake—we're all very proud and excited at how well you've done since you've left, but that pride and excitement do come tinged with a bit of worry at what might have been had you been allowed to stay. Somewhere 'twixt the two, I hope there's enough warm feeling on your part to go easy on your former club. At the rate we've been going, we may have to depend on the kindness of stranger things...