Arsenal's Limpness, And Rationalization

David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.

Well, that settles it then. Arsenal' s wonder season is over, lost in the Oceanic 815 wreckage of its two colossal Cup defeats , first to Tottenham and now to Manchester United. There is nothing to live for and the only thing left to do is to off oneself, like, say, Owen Wilson. This way, if you survive, there's always that chance Sir Alex will invite you to United's victory orgy at Ronaldo's place

At least that's what you would have thought had you walked into Kinsale Tavern after Saturday's 4-0 Gooner humiliation. Everywhere you looked, there were ManU fans clinking their pints, singing their stupid songs and waving a fistful of $20s in the air (at last count Dubliner Dave had won $120, which covered nearly half his bar tab). But what was odd was that they were joined in their delirium by people who normally steal their hubcaps rather than cheer for them. Yes, so many Liverpool supporters were whooping it up with their hated Manchester rivals, there was barely enough space on Arsenal's grave for the Tottenham scum to dance their pathetic Carling Cup jig. Ah, nothing like a good Arsenal dickstomping to unite the world. Maybe the Shiites and Sunnis would like to join in.

Of course, only 90 minutes earlier those two-faced Scousers were on their own suicide watch, after losing to Plucky Little Barnsley at the death. Lingering Bursitis and his mates were so desperate to take their minds off their own sorry-ass debacle that they took comfort in standing shoulder to shoulder with the United mob and bellowing "Same Old Arsenal. Always Cheating" when Adebayour dove comically in the box.

You couldn't really begrudge the United fans their giddiness. They had not only ass-raped their fiercest rivals in the FA Cup 4-0, they had trussed us up and put a ballgag in our mouth. (Forgive me, I've been reading the New York Post a little too much lately.) I mean, what could better than that? Uh, winning the league, perhaps.

Let's try to keep some perspective here, people. Arsenal sucked balls on Saturday, but last I
looked — which is roughly every thirty seconds — we're still five points clear at the top of the Prem and hosting Milan on Wednesday in the Champions League. Think of it like losing the ACC Tournament but ending up in the Final Four. That was the spin I was using with my Arsenal wingman Raj when things started to get ugly Saturday.

Raj is the former college linebacker who still looks like he could turn a bar into a parking lot at the slightest provocation. "This is the same shit we went through after the Spurs game," I reminded him, "and we didn't exactly fall apart, did we?" Unless, of course, your definition of falling apart is to win four straight games over respectable (OK, two wins were against Newscastle) Prem teams to vault over ManU into first place.

Raj was not assuaged. "I feel like hitting some motherfucker," he said, looking balefully in the direction of Relegation Zone Mikey singing "Arsene Wenger Is a Pedophile."

"Have another beer," I said, forgetting that it was barely 12:20 and he was on his fourth. "All this proves is that ManU's B team is better than our B team and that Wenger is saving our studs for Wednesday's Champions League match against Milan."

This is probably a good time to point out that Arsenal were missing a few key players Saturday — Clichy and Sagna on the flanks, Flamini in front of the back four, Adebayour spearheading the attack and Fabregas pulling the strings at midfield. Yes, I know that ManU was without Ronaldo, Tevez and Giggs, but United is so deep that they can throw on that little porn star Nani and the Scottish kipper Fletcher without losing their mojo. Arsenal, on the other hand, suffers a catastrophic drop-off when Wenger is forced to start his fetuses like Hoyte and Traore in defense. Nani turned Hoyte inside out more times than he did those hookers at Ronaldo's hot tub romp, and I never thought I'd live to see the day where the announcer in an Arsenal game utters the words "Darren Fletcher's on a hat trick."

Still, even with the weakened lineup — actually it turns out Fabregas did play according to the team sheet — and a waterlogged bog of a pitch, there are no excuses for Arsenal's limp-dick performance. Not that Wenger didn't do his best to find them amid the smoldering ruins of another Cup fiasco. Ever the gracious loser, the Frenchman went on and on about the field being a "disgrace," but how about Eboue's attempt to implant his foot into Evra's stomach. What would you call that, Monsieur? The ref called it a red card, reducing Arsenal to 10 men early in the second half. Had he seen Gallas poleax Nani minutes later, the Gunners would have finished with nine players on the field.

Not that it would have mattered. They were outshot 13-1, outcornered 7-0 and outthought for 90 minutes. Indeed, if Rooney had been at his predatory best instead of only scoring one of a half dozen gilt-edged chances, United might have hit double figures.

Did I mention we were five points clear at the top?