|UNDER PRESSURE: There are tough times ahead for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. AFP Photo|
I have a lot of friends from Africa and most of them are Arsenal supporters.
I’m not too sure why the north London team is their club of choice, maybe it has something to do with the large number of African footballers who have worn the red and white over the years.
Some, it has to be said, have been better than others.
The likes of Kanu, Kolo Toure and Lauren stand out ahead of Emmanuel Frimpong, Marouane Chamakh and Kaba Diawara (Google the last one if you’ve never heard of him).
Kanu for sure was a cult figure at Arsenal, a much-loved component of Wenger’s most celebrated squads. Toure and Lauren certainly fit into that category as well.
Emmanuel Adebayor was another great African Arsenal player, although after his move to Manchester City, and his famous goal celebration when he scored for his new club against his old, he certainly dropped a place or ten in the popularity table.
Today, Arsenal have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang representing the continent at The Emirates Stadium.
An amazing talent but sadly right now is being dragged down by, for me, probably the worst Arsenal team seen since pre-1989.
For those of you old enough to remember, that team of 30-odd years ago won the title in the most dramatic of fashions, scoring a last minute goal at Liverpool to clinch the league on goal difference.
This current crop is nothing more than a poor excuse of a football team. For the last 10 years, aside from the odd cup triumph, they have simply been also-rans in the Premier League.
And that has irked one African more than most.
Rwandan President and Arsenal fan Paul Kagame vented his frustration at the club's shock defeat by a newly promoted club on the opening day of the English Premier League season last week.
On paper, this may sound a bit of a ‘so what’ but delve a little further, and you will understand why his two penneth worth is of great significance.
His government sponsor Arsenal. Watch a game from their ground and the advertising hoardings promote visits to the landlocked African country. The team’s shirt sleeves promote the same message.
So all in all, Kagame carries a fair bit of clout. He isn’t just another fan from Africa feeling a little miffed at the current run of form.
Now I know we are only one game in, and the defeat away to Brentford last week was indeed a shocker, but it will not define their entire season.
But on Sunday they play Chelsea. And a week later, head north to face Manchester City. Plus in a few weeks, they host arch-rivals Tottenham with a tricky away trip to Burnley before that.
Lose those games, well sorry Arsenal fans, but your season will be over before it has even got going.
I know, as an avid watcher of Arsenal TV (sorry, but it’s just hilarious after a defeat, right Fam?), fans are pretty split as to what should happen next.
And while there is clearly a dislike of the owners, I think the finger needs to be firmly pointed at manager Mikel Arteta, and certainly the decision to appoint him.
It’s worth noting that when he joined in 2019 he had zero managerial experience, having only worked previously as an assistant coach at Manchester City.
He is simply not good enough for Arsenal. It’s time for change.
Cut your losses Arsenal and show Mikel the door. It will certainly be the right decision in the minds of your African fan base, none more so than the President of Rwanda. VNS