London-based football club Arsenal is one of the world’s most prominent and well-known clubs, but they have struggled in recent years to find the form of the championship. In the latest incarnation of Everything or nothing, Amazon Prime Video’s long-running series of one-team sports documentaries, we get a look at The Gunners’ 2021-22 campaign. Will they be able to regain their once-familiar glory, or will they advance to the middle of the rankings?
Opening shot: Wide shots of the Emirates Stadium, match highlights and roaring crowds are interspersed with stories explaining the club’s position. It’s a quick, effective piece of explanation; even if you don’t know the club, you will be quickly overtaken.
The core: There was a time – not so long ago – when Arsenal was synonymous with success. The third most decorated club in English football history (after only Liverpool and Manchester United in terms of trophies won), the London-based Gunners became known as “The Invincibles” during their 2003-04 campaign, when they played an entire season. without losing a Premier League game. Led by longtime manager Arsene Wenger and behind the record-breaking exploits of striker Thierry Henry, Arsenal have consistently been among the best clubs in England and Europe.
Of course times are changing. Wenger and Henry are long retired, competitors like Manchester City have been backed by foreign investment, and well… sometimes teams just collapse. Arsenal are entering the 2021-22 Premier League season without cracking the top four in six years, and with the youngest club in the league not widely expected to change that. But can they change direction and find their way back to the top? We will pick up the thread with this latest edition of Everything or Nothing.
What shows will it remind you of? By this time, Everything or nothing is one of Amazon Prime Video’s most established brands; Since the show first launched in 2016, the show has aired more than a dozen single-team documentaries, focusing on clubs from the NFL and NHL to association football and American college football. However, if you are unfamiliar, consider it: hard blowsor even Ride to survivejust jumping around between sports.
Our opinion: There’s plenty of drama to be found in association football, even if you’re not a seasoned fan. In Sunderland till I die, we see the slow tragedy of a proud club sliding down the relegation ladder. In Ted Lassowe saw an unwitting American develop a grudging appreciation for the sport. All or nothing: Arsenal is a bit more straight forward – there’s neither the do-or-die stakes of probable relegation, nor the benefit of a room of comedic writers; there’s just a club that the fans expect to be at the top and struggling to find their way back.
Following the COVID-ravaged 2020-21 season, the club’s relationship with fans is tense. They haven’t made it to the Champions League in a few years, and if they finish in eighth place, they won’t be competing in a European competition for the first time in a quarter of a century. The mistrust of the property of the American-based Kroenke family turns into outright anger when the club agrees to participate in the announced but ultimately failed formation of a breakaway European Super League, something that fans say is destroying centuries of tradition.
Off-season are always anxious times, though, and nothing wipes the pain away like winning. The Gunners must find a way to win more. That’s a tall order as the club enter the season as the youngest team in the EPL, and with the youngest manager – 39-year-old former team captain Mikel Arteta, in his first year as chief executive. They certainly have some talent: young winger Bukayo Saka, veteran Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and recently added expensive centre-back Benjamin White, to name a few. They are the biggest spenders in the league in the last transfer window, and it is clear that they are interested in doing whatever it takes to bring the club back.
But talent has never been the biggest problem for one of the best-supported and well-funded clubs in association football; results have been. The new season is off to a rocky start, with three consecutive defeats to open their schedule, and the Gunners are at the very bottom of the Premier League table en route to a September game with fellow basement dweller Norwich City. Can they recover?
Gender and skin: No.
Farewell Shot: Arsenal finally break through into their fourth game of the season to record a 1-0 win over Norwich City that provides relief for players and fans alike. It’s only one win, but hopefully it can be a turning point. But as one fan noted after the game, the team’s first real test will be in the upcoming North London Derby against arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur. Another fan notes, “they’re all must-wins.”
Sleeping star: He may not qualify as a ‘sleeper’ anymore, but 19-year-old winger Bukayo Saka is certainly the most exciting figure in both Arsenal’s present and future. We learn both about his enormous potential, but also about the abuse he suffered after the decisive penalty stopped in the UEFA Euro 2020 final against Italy. His grace and resilience to the disgrace of some English fans suggest he has a great career ahead of him.
Most Pilot-y-line: “Mate, I have some little kids who absolutely give me piles,” says Ben White, referring to the reaction to the 23-year-old’s £50m price tag. “They were robbing me right away, they were like ’50 million, you’re shit”.
Our call: FLOW IT. If you’re a casual fan of English football, this is a great way to immerse yourself in an emerging team success. If you’re a hardcore fan, it offers you behind-the-scenes glimpses that you can’t get enough of.
Scott Hines is an architect, blogger and skilled Internet user in Louisville, Kentucky, who publishes the much-loved Action Cookbook newsletter.