The way I see it - Arsenal v Liverpool

Last updated : 09 February 2010 By Jason Hogan

To think my weekend started so well. Courtesy of mother in law, Charlie, I got an item in Saturday's which is has immediately become my most prized possession - a DVD of the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa 2009.

I will never ever get sick of watching it (even though we lost the series 2-1) because if anything, it teaches you the value of camaraderie, intensity, loyalty in adversity, history, the sanctity of wearing the Lions shirt and what being a Lion means.

Combine these profound values with the concept of this particular Lions tour - to win a test series against the World Champions in THEIR country, in THEIR conditions (mostly at altitudes of up to 6000 feet) in front of THEIR people and effectively(allowing for the variance in the laws of the game between Northern and Southern Hemispheres) THEIR rules.

I was absolutely captivated by all that went on during the tour and I would defy anyone that has a real idea of the tribal aspect of sport not to be taken in by it. My whole summer was based around the tour and as I lived, breathed and drank in every moment of the tour, I asked myself do challenges in sport come any bigger than this?

The Lions tour reinvigorated my passion for Rugby Union, a passion that had bubbling away for nigh on 30 years. And being a bit of rugby junkie, I was in no desperate hurry to tune in to Arsenal's game at the Bridge.

When the Scotland v France had finished, I switched over. Long before kick off, I had a really bad feeling about the game and when I saw that it 2-0 to the PRF, I knew that my worst fears had come true. I stared up at the caption in the top left hand corner of my screen in a mixture of disgust and resignation. Why did I have to put myself through this? I wondered.

At half time I thought about Virginia and her partner Alan. Virginia sent me a text saying that both she and Alan had gone out and were watching the game in their local hangout. I must admit that I sent one back saying I was watching the rugby and that I couldn't face watching the Arsenal. And by the end of the game, I wish I hadn't bothered watching them at all.

After the game I was so beside myself with frustration, I went around punching ever door in my flat. I had seen a match played out against backdrop I had seen so many times before and I knew what was coming in the press and the media - a skip full of horseshit dropped on us from a great height.

I can bash my head against a brick wall and resent the contemptuous mud slinging that has ensued as much as I like but I cannot escape the truth that something needs to change at Arsenal. As many observers have said Wenger is definitely one eyed and is seeing things nobody else is seeing.

Short of bashing the guy over the head and saying "Look, this does not work", I am at a loss as to what I would say to him.

Wenger may be steadfast and resolute in his philosophy on football. What a shame that some of his players do not his stoicism. I know you have to be careful for what you wish for but my advice to the boss is shape up or ship out and become financial guru at Deloitte and Touche. Because whilst there is no doubt he can make a business profitable (as Arsenal are) he has to realise that being a success financially for a going concern such Arsenal does not mean that you are going to be a successful coach in this day and age. The two jobs do not quite go hand in hand. If he hasn't learnt that much in five years the question must be, will he ever? And if he doesn't, how long will it be before the board show signs of disquiet? I know that some cynics might say the board don't care just as long as we remain profitable and finish in the top four every year. Either way I would love to confront Ivan Gazidis (amongst others), nail his feet to the floor and ask his views on that.

This brings me on to Wednesday's game at The Grove against Liverpool.

Now, who was it that said that football goes in cycles? Whilst our recent malaise has got everyone stampeding in a rush to ridicule us, there has been an upturn in fortunes at Liverpool. Some of their fans have even joined in the crescendo of abuse. Well forgive me for clutching at straws here but at least we have got to last 16 of the Champions League and whilst our title hopes are faltering, the prospect of Liverpool winning it from here are downright absurd.

Five games unbeaten combined with our malaise hasn't made Liverpool push for a top four place absurd though and having seen off Everton in the derby on Saturday, they will come to The Grove With confidence restored and no doubt sensing that Arsenal are there for the taking.

You know something, they could be right. The Arsenal do not have the personnel nor the mentality to win big games.

In writing this I keep getting flashbacks to the Lions 2nd test in Pretoria. It was the greatest rugby Test match I had ever seen. It was also the most brutal and bloody Test match I had ever seen. Five members of the Lions squad were taken to hospital after the game with assorted ailments. The pools of blood and the broken bones they were struck down wouldn't have hurt half as much as losing the series with the very last kick of the game (oh God, it was painful).

The thing was the Lions sought redemption in Johannesburg in the 3rd test and they duly got it.

It may seem as though Arsenal may have lost a 38 game war as a result of being humbled in two battles. If we are to go down to defeat in the war, then we should at least do it with honour. The road to redemption starts here.