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Rather be stuck indoors, Arsenal?

OPINION: What was striking about the Gunners’ shameful capitulation against Aston Villa on Sunday was how most of the home side’s players seemed to lack any thirst for... playing football

12 November, 2020 — By Richard Osley

IT’S easy, particularly now, for us to mention the money.

We can all chip on about how much so-and-so is being paid and yet still he can’t pass a ball straight.

Each week, Premier League footballers add tens of thousands of pounds to the money mountains in their mansion safes, so why are they still not doing what we want?

The jealousy is particularly acute now because the money-recession-disaster is on most of our minds.

But we were saying footballers were being paid too much 10 years ago and we’ll probably be saying it in another 10 years too. So let’s get that one out of the way: they get paid a lot, and some of them should be a lot better for the rates they charge.

But what was more striking about Arsenal’s shameful capitulation against Aston Villa on Sunday was not the twisted salary-talent axis, but the fact that most of the players seemed to lack any thirst for… playing football.

Putting the wages aside, how can playing football be such a chore?

The way Arsenal played was as if they had all been asked to go and do the hoovering, and to clean the bathroom while they’re at it.

Some of them looked so bored, so disinterested, like somehow life had taken a wrong turn but they couldn’t remember how they’d ended up in this hell.

I mean, there are some occupations that you’d think it would be OK to say: “You know what, I didn’t dream of being a pest-controller when I was a lad in the playground at school and I don’t particularly like collecting cockroaches from a rotting house, but we’ve all got to scratch a living.”

In contrast, these players did surely dream of being footballers. It wasn’t like they were sitting around as teenagers disappointed that they didn’t get the grades to be a “project manager” – whatever that is – and were told by a careers adviser: “Sorry, young man, you’ll sadly have to make do with being a Premier League footballer instead.”

And yet in many matches, it seems to take at least 20 minutes for any of them to have any enthusiasm.

This is a locked down time when amateurs, pub teams and Sunday morning kickabouters have all been told they can’t hire pitches.

That 90 minutes of soccerooney fun that lights up their weekends has been shelved.

Many are desperate just to kick a ball again and they’d pay you to do it.

And yet while the masses are locked out of the astroturf until December at least, the lucky few who are permitted to play – the pros – look like they’ve been asked to do a bleep test after a roast dinner. Why aren’t they more excited about… playing football?

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