This week’s obsession of the week is dedicated to my favorite football club: Arsenal London.
I love football. I spend around 20 hours a week either playing, coaching or watching football. It is a beautiful and graceful sport, where anything is possible at any given moment. While I play for my local club SC Zollikon in one of the lower leagues in Swiss football, my allegiance as a supporter lies with Arsenal London.
A mediocre season for Arsenal ended last Sunday with the club missing out on a trophy in every competition they participated in and coming in fourth in premier league competition. A gap of 18 points to champions Manchester United means a lot of work needs to be done in summer to compete for a title next year. The fourth place finish however has two big positives: Arsenal will have the chance to qualify for the Champions League and the club finished one place above Tottenham, denying our rival the coveted spot among Europe’s best.
I became an Arsenal fan during the era of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, two of my all-time favorite players. I wear number 14 in part because of the Frenchman’s play. Their attack-minded displays of speed and skill captured my imagination and led to me spending countless hours on the pitch trying to copy this immortal goal.
But since 2005 the Arsenal has not won anything, albeit coming very close in the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006. This period of weakness has led to me being made fun and ridiculed by supporters of other clubs. That happens when a club is unsuccessful. And considered how great the club was in the nineties and early noughties, the last eight years have been extremely disappointing. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this period without any real success has made my love for the club only deeper. I celebrate wins with more joy and feel more despair over losses. Being an Arsenal fan also comes with a certain melancholia and nostalgia for the glory days of earlier years. We share feelings of rage when our former captain leaves for the biggest rival in the chase for titles. We endure the pain of seeing said former captain score twice against our team. We feel a mixture of sorrow and disappointment when the player who has shown glimpses of glory is injured and out for the season yet again. But then again, we breathe the sighs of relief when the club reaches its minimum goal. We feel the hope of turning around a lost cause against Europe’s premier team. And most importantly, we also share the elation and ecstasy when Arsenal plays fantastic football and sends Tottenham packing.
For anyone who wants to know more about the intracacies of being a football and Arsenal fan in particular, I can only recommend the book “Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby, truly one of the best sports books ever written.
As a fan, I can count myself lucky to have experienced the Invincibles season as a young teenager. And better times are about to come. The three clubs ahead of Arsenal in the table are changing coaches and while the prospect of Jose Mourinho leading Chelsea once more isn’t the most appealing scenario, all new coaches might go through the usual growing pains. Having signed the English core centered around Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott to long-term contracts, there should be no big names leaving the Emirates this summer. With one or two additions to the squad, the Arsenal should once again be able to challenge for Premier League glory.
Last, but not least, a few words about my favorite player in the current Arsenal squad: Tomas Rosicky. A prodigious talent on the brink of becoming a world-class midfielder when he moved to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund, he has been set back by injuries time and time again. But each season, he comes back and shows what made him such a talent in the first place. His vision is remarkable, his decision making strong and most of all, he plays with a flair only shared by Santi Cazorla in the current squad. I just love watching him play, because he always does what he needs to do. When the team needs a playmaker, he makes plays. When the team needs to win back the ball, you can see him on the front line hassling the defence. While many might think he hasn’t lived up to the expectations he arrived with after leading Dortmund to a Bundesliga title, I still haven’t given up hope that we’ll see him lift a trophy (any of which would be fine by now) in an Arsenal shirt.
Now you know what I’m obsessing over this week and most Saturdays between August and May. This season should also be the year I finally fulfil my dream of visiting the Emirates stadium in London.
I hope you liked my first “non-literature” entry in this blog. You can leave your thoughts about Arsenal or the post in the comments below. To support my writing please subscribe on the right hand side by clicking on “Follow”! The easiest way to connect with me and read more of my rants on Arsenal is to follow me on Twitter!
On Friday, I get back to writing fiction with Chapter 4 of “An elusive hero” coming up!