They say it’s the hopes that kills you as an Arsenal fan. This is very true and even more true when you are living 10,000 miles across the world. Waking up at 3am to watch Arsenal is a whole other experience on its own. Being an Arsenal fan in Asia has given some tips on how to navigate real life, how to deal with with disappointments and frustrations but with a glimmer of hope that everything will be great again *fingerscrossed*
Hi, my name is Ben, and I support Arsenal. Hi Ben.
2020 has been wild for all the wrong reasons. It’s probably on par with how wild it’s been for Arsenal’s season across 2019 and 2020. Before I go on, this is MY experience of being an Arsenal fan, living in Asia.
Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal. Where do I begin? Alright, let’s see. Let’s set some context for you if you don’t follow football.
For me, being an Arsenal fan for me is like being English. You had some great great glory days, you dominated the world for a good while and built this class reputation.
Then for whatever reason, things kind of got a bit stagnant. Other countries like India and China of the world have overtaken you, and for the Premier League, we have Chelsea and Man City.
The world thinks everyone in England is sipping on tea with a posh accent. But in reality, it’s an island full of people getting pissed on WKDs and eating potatoes all day in the rain.
The UK had Brexit and this whole mess. Arsenal we also had Brexit of our own, which is when we crashed ourselves out of the Champions League in 2017.
Another big turning point for us was when Arsene Wenger left the club, after 22 long years of taking the reins.
Boris got elected, and we got Unai Emery.
Just like Brexit, the fan base was very divided.
You know sometimes being Arsenal fan is just like living life. Depressing and repetitive.
The same old mistakes were made by the club, and yet somehow we still survive. Our Defence has been weak AF for the past 10 years, our defence is so bad that if you try to set a password to ‘Arsenal Defence’, it won’t even allow it because it’s too weak.
We were in what some people call Banter era. Where everything we do is a joke. We are here to make up the numbers, and no one is taking us seriously.
‘What is the difference between Arsenal and a cup of tea?’
The tea stays in the cup for longer. Hahahahaha…
They say that Arsenal is like a sports car - 1000 horsepower, slick design, Red Lamborghini with peanut butter colour inside, custom wheels but the 2nd half of the car is a fucking Fiat 500 with stabilising wheels.
Last year, right before the start of the season, we were told to be excited by the owner’s son, this American guy, Josh. Who the fuck says ‘be excited’? Does he think we are on Blue Peter or something?
I mean it was an exciting season if it was a reality TV show.
We did make several new histories for the club. We hired a Manager who doesn’t speak English and refused to use a translator and only knows how to say ‘Good Evebening’.
I have no idea what he was saying either.
So far we are having our worst season since 1982. Till now, our best players have pretty much been our goalkeeper, Leno and if you think about it in the footballing world, this is just not great because that means your keeper is always busy and the rest of the team is not doing their job. It’s like if the lawyers of your company are making the most money, something fishy must be going on.
We enter November, everyone is gearing up for Christmas time because notoriously this is the hardest and busiest time of the entire year’s fixtures. The make or break for the season. What did Arsenal do?
Sacking his Manager without a replacement for 3 weeks. We lost a few more games and our season was basically finished in December. At one point, we were actually closer to the relegation zone than the top 4.
Three weeks gone by, we actually had a new Manager, Mikel Arteta who also played for our club as a player.
He was in the Barcelona youth team, he played with some big names and worked under Pep Guardiola. He is regarded as one of the best young managers out there and tipped to achieve great heights in the game.
Or that just the Arsenal in me talking.
But we did see some immediate progress. We drew with Chelsea with 10 men on the field, we beat Man United 2-0 quite convincingly. We were gaining some momentum. We as fans are full of hopes again.
Our ex-player, our ex-captain has come back to rescue us. Everything was looking good again, we as fans can dream again we were back in the top 4 contentions.
Then 2020 came to fuck everything up.
Some leagues around the world have canceled their season. Null and voided. Doesn’t count - almost like my paycheck every month. Just gone.
And out of all the clubs, it has to be us. Mikel Arteta who in his first year as a Manager catches the Coronavirus, the Premier League finally then announced that they will postpone all fixtures until further notice.
Fast forward to ‘project restart’ where the Premier League fixtures resume. Which sparked a lot of controversy because it's not safe but hey they are the most viewed league in the world who make the most money, the greatest export of the United Kingdom, the clown show must go on.
1st game back after 3 months of absolutely no football. We played Man City aka the UAE empire of oil tanks. 2 players get injured in the opening 25 minutes. Our chief clown David Luiz came on as a substitute and let in a goal after 10 mins on the pitch, got a Red card in the 1st minute of the 2nd half. We ended up losing 3-0.
2nd game into the restart. Leno, our best player gets injured. We lose 2-0.
If you think you 2020 has been a struggle, try being an Arsenal fan and living in Asia. It’s like being a side chick. You are not always around and its always during the middle of the night that you just get fucked sideways unexpectedly.
We get up at ridiculous hours just to watch us lose. The European fans may enjoy a fresh pint and a pie for half time. For us, it’s instant noodles and spam in our PJs. Instead of beer, we just inject caffeine into our veins at 3am.
Our season by this point in the Premier League was again over. And we turned our focus on the FA Cup which only needed 3 more wins to get ourselves a trophy.
In typical Arsenal fashion, we actually played well again. A few more games down the road, we actually ended up beating Liverpool & Man City and Chelsea to win the FA Cup! To make it full circle, we also won the Community Shield against Liverpool a few weeks later down the line.
This is what Arsenal does best. They kick you down to the slumps, then give you a little something something back. It’s like when you want to call it quits with your abusive toxic ex-girlfriend, she kneels down and you are right back in. The makeup sex is always class.
People who don’t follow football will never understand the commitment, the ups and downs we go through as a football fan.
Football can kill your soul sometimes but it can also give us life. What happens on the pitch is out of our control, but as fans all we can do is give our best to our club, support them and root for them no matter what. I don’t mean that we should just accept defeats or everything the club says. We should always advocate for change and voice our opinions - as long as we have the best intention and a good heart.
We should be able to accept failure and disappointments in games if we believe 110% effort was given.
Now shouldn’t life be the same? Could we all take a leaf out of this book and live life with the same heart?
If Arsenal can win 2 trophies in 2020 and keep hold of our best players to stay with us. Then, anyone, absolutely anyone can achieve anything. In hindsight, 2020 really is that clean slate we always wanted.