Premier League Diary: Arsenal remains the definition of insanity

The thing is about Sunday, is that you can write it using just one word, and everyone will know exactly what you mean.

Arsenal arsenal arsenal. Arsenal arsenal arsenal, arsenally, arsenal. Arse. Nal. Arsenal! Arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal. Arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal. Arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal – arsenal arsenal arsenal – arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal, arsenal. Jack Wilshere arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal. Arsenal, arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal. arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal. Arsenal arsenal. Shit defending arsenal arsenal arsenal arsenal.

The brilliant thing about Arsenal fans is that when the going is good, they just do not care. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then the definition of Arsenal is being used in blogs to invoke the definition of insanity.

It all started so well for Arsenal. Manchester United called up on some children to play from the start, with 18-year-old Marcus Rashford starting up front in place of the injured Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney. Guillermo Varela, Jesse Lingard, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and James Weir all made appearances. Michael Carrick was in central defence, alongside Daley Blind, the world’s least creative creative central defender. Marcos Rojo was barely fit enough to play. In short, if you want to play a broken and miserable United side, then the most amusing time to do it is when they not only hate their manager and themselves, but also the misfortune that the world has dished out.

And of course, Arsenal finally exacted defeat on United in revenge for the 8-2 humiliation they suffered years ago, when they too were depressed and depleted. Mesut Ozil seized the chance to demonstratively affect a crucial match. Alexis Sanchez knew this would be the first proper chance to face off against a nominally big club, and smash them along the way to setting down a marker to the rest of the league. Petr Cech provided defensive leadership to make up for the absence of Per Mertesacker. Theo Walcott decided that now was the chance to show, in light of the limitations of Olivier Giroud in the defeat to Barcelona, that he was the man to take over and lead the charge to domestic success. In truth, the whole team knew that they could no longer underperform and fail to focus on the essentials. This was their best chance to win the league after a decade of near misses and almost total failures. That would not happen this year.

GettyImages-512843690Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

From all appearances, even Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was expecting to be knocked out.

Ah, hang on. No. That’s the entry that we’d written before the match started. You see, the thing is, United have been so abysmal this season, and the injury list was so extensive, and Van Gaal has been so awkward and constrictive, that we just assumed we could save time over the weekend and write everything up beforehand. By rights, we should both be absolutely off our trolley on overpriced craft beer and fancy pizza. We should be learning French confidently and incompetently, fired up on alcohol, from waitresses who we are attempting to charm but are actually revolted by us. We should be diving, like Scrooge McDuck into money, into a big, juicy ripe pile of cocaine.

But instead, Arsenal couldn’t beat this United. They couldn’t even draw! They couldn’t draw against the most broken United side since the one they lost to under David Moyes. They couldn’t be bothered to stand next to Marcus Rashford in the box, twice. They couldn’t be bothered to track Ander Herrera running from midfield, and they couldn’t be bothered to do the least we should expect from a team that is a decade in the making.

Instead, Ozil scored a pointless consolation goal. Sanchez looked like a man who didn’t want a rest after Copa America, but now really needs a rest after Copa America. The entire back four seems like it has taken one look at Steve Bould and decided to ignore all of his defending lessons, instead speaking in other languages or using their accent to pronounce it as ‘Steve Bald’ to his face, and giggling pathetically. Basically, Arsenal would much rather dick about on the pitch than actually do their jobs to the best of their ability. And the man to blame for that is Wenger, standing on the sidelines looking perplexed at exactly the same failure as usual, just a few days after watching exactly the same failures as usual. It is tempting, and probably fair, to point out that if you lose to Barcelona it is probably because you are playing Barcelona. When it comes to Arsenal and Wenger, though, it seems that, more often than not, when Arsenal lose, it’s because they are thoroughly Arsenal.