Football is emotive. It can drag you to the depths in an instant. It can have you soaring in a second.
Music too has the ability to have your emotions on a string, a signature melody can be entwined with your heartstrings much like your team. It’s debilitating, it’s enriching, it’s how you’re wired – and football and music are the copper wire that the voltage flows through.
Under Arsene Wenger, we became famed for our brand of football. With the likes of Vieira, Pires, Henry, Bergkamp we created music that was compelling. It was smooth, but the crescendos had your heart pumping like nothing else.
That is our brand, it is a large part of why we have such a massive global fanbase. We are synonymous with playing football the right way. It was to our detriment at times, we kept attempting to conduct what would be a masterful symphony but with the wrong conductor, or our string section was out of tune. We didn’t have the orchestra needed to blend the beautiful with the hard-hitting and it cost us.
Now we have a new conductor. Unai Emery is not known for his purist views on tactics and the way football should be played. To a degree he is a realist and is aware that results rather than entertainment keeps his bum on the seat.
But do results garner enjoyment? Silverware is the ultimate aim of any team, and lifting a cup or becoming champions will send all fans into raptures, but can goals and harmonious football fit the bill?
There are some teams that haven’t won anything for decades. Yet still the stands fill up. Week after week support comes flooding through the turnstile even though the majority will know that seeing their team lift something is highly unlikely.
Yet in those games, there will be moments that those heartstrings are yanked, the adrenaline rushes inside like a torrent and they feel the excitement, the thrill. The respective manager has stood in front of his orchestra and weaved a mesmerising passage that has the opposing team in knots and the support in the stands in a roaring cacophony of pleasure.
Last season was a hint at what to expect under Emery, and he certainly had some talented musicians on the pitch – all capable of using their boots to create something truly special. At times we were beautiful – wins over Fulham and Leicester saw goals that were cutouts from the prime Wenger era. There were also moments when the timing was out, the music was jarring, notes were wrong and the noise created couldn’t be further from what Arsenal is known for.
Will our football this season be a symphony?
We certainly seem to be well stocked in attack. Goals are where the magic is created, and a thrilling game with goals for both sides, leading to a late winner is perhaps the best sheet of music for fans. It builds and builds until the end sends you skyward, with a feeling so euphoric that it immediately becomes ingrained in your memory, available for recall for years afterwards.
There has to be a blend though. Music and football shouldn’t have an element of pragmatism, but they do. Without the steady thud of the defence, the energy of the midfield, there can be no high points. Goals may be the aim, but what good is a goal without a win?
Unai Emery has the mastery of his craft to know that there are certain demands that must be fulfilled, demands which may result in a sacrifice in the more beautiful side of football. Top four is the crux of the albatross around Emery’s neck, but with the resources available to him, should Emery be able to harmonise the agricultural with the aesthetically pleasing?
Our motto is ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ which translates to ‘Victory Through Harmony.’ That must be what underpins our values, our tactics, our gameplan.
We could be one of those sides that swaps out the entertainment and drags each game into a dreary midfield battle, the clash becoming abstract jazz rather than a catchy beat or a sumptuous passage of music.
It wouldn’t sit right with the majority of us for good reason. It goes against our fabric, it isn’t us.
To hit the high notes, we must play through our opponents and aim for a style that gets our pulses racing.
Of course, we also had many a year where we were known for our defensive football and our recalcitrant backline. If we could manage this on those tough away games and save the beautiful football for the rest?
I’m sure everyone would be happy listening to that melody this season.