After a three month long spell of – mostly – rainbows, kittens and sunshine, Arsenal’s unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an end against Swansea City. Our apparent Achilles heel since 2011.
In front of goal we were impotent. We were all making the right noises but we weren’t singing from the same hymn sheet.
While many were quick to brush off the loss as just one of those things, many were also incredibly angry at the way we were defeated. We had a crazy-amount of possession, as is the norm for us, and had the majority of shots on target, but what counted was their goal at the end of the match.
You’ll be comforted to know that this pain won’t last forever. Here are the five stages of an Arsenal loss as I – and probably many of you – experience them. You will get through this, pals. Together, we will be strong.
First stage: Denial
Swansea have just scored and you’re almost flippant. You probably sigh something along the lines of ‘typical Arsenal’ or even allow yourself a nonchalant chuckle.
You carry on praying for an equaliser and then a subsequent winner. After all, we’ve had all that possession and all those chances. We just needed an opposing goal to wake us up a bit. That’s it. It’s only Swansea. We’ll be fine.
You sit forward in your seat a bit more and wring your hands tighter. Maybe grab a beverage.
Second stage: Anger
Wherever you’re watching the game has got a lot tenser. Any non-football supporting company you may have are considering leaving the room to do laundry or go for a nice walk.
Your disgruntled remarks fill the air.
“Jack. For the love of God, just shoot with your right foot you were right there.”
“Why on earth are we passing it back for? We’re not going to score doing that.”
“Shoot Mesut… Mesut… No… Shoot. Don’t pass it. Oh for heaven’s sake.”
“Cross it into the box! Cross! Cross it! In the box!”
“You’re useless! How much are they paying you?”
At this stage you may say things you probably don’t mean and you may wander in and out of the room, not wanting to watch the car crash that’s unfolding on TV but also not wanting to miss anything.
Third stage: Bargaining
You sit back down. There’s only a couple of minutes left.
“Okay, just a draw. A point will do. We’ll still be unbeaten.”
“Come on lads, just get the draw. You can do it.”
“If only we hadn’t take Giroud off. Can we put him back on? We can do that right?”
Before the game you may have predicted an out-and-out victory for your team but now getting a measly point seems like the pinnacle of success.
Fourth stage: Depression
We’re in extra time and the opposition are keeping the ball. You’re not going to get your equaliser and definitely not going to win.
Your unbeaten record is over. Second place is out of our hands.
You might take a moment to stare out of the window forlornly.
You may pour a large glass of whiskey before you realise you don’t like whiskey and set it aside. If you’re in a bar, you may order a shot of vodka and knock it back, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand and staring into space. Remembering better days.
“Well that’s it. We blew our chances. It’s all downhill from here.”
“We’ve got Man United next weekend. Man United. If we can’t beat Swansea, how can we beat them?”
You hold your face in your hands.
Fade to black.
Fifth stage: Acceptance
This stage doesn’t usually come until the morning after a loss – at least for me. It takes a while.
“Well, it’s only our second home loss of the season. That’s pretty good. It was bound to happen.”
“These things happen. We’ve got top four, that’s what matters.”
“One bad result does not make a bad team. We played alright. Let’s bounce back against Man United.”
In all seriousness, we’ve lost before and we’ll inevitably lose again. It’s the manner in which we’ve lost that we have to take heart from. It wasn’t a thumping, just a stroke of bad luck and not taking out chances. How we learn from it and progress is what matters.