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Urgency and Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Anxiety

“Pressure always comes to greet us, yet it’s back to us to brush it off.”

The Heroic Defeat (again)

Sam Wallace, in his column in, states that there is no other team that experienced the heroic defeat in Champions League as many as Arsenal did. Being kicked out for five times in the big-sixteen rounds in last five seasons sequentially is an upsetting fact. Last season, once more Arsenal was successful to make the fans have a heart attack.

Defeated 1-3 in the first leg against Monaco was a disaster. Moreover, the third goal in that match has completed the disaster. Although two goals were made in second leg, Arsenal was still stepped aside for its less productiveness (aggregate 3-3). The failure in Champions League was regarded as the most disappointing result for Arsene Wenger among all other loss previously. Yes, Monaco (no offense) is seen as the easier opponent compared to Barcelona or Bayern Munich, the “soul mates” of Arsenal in Champions League.

The effort of avoiding the serious opponents in the big-sixteen rounds was not accompanied by the awareness in which Arsenal was dancing on the stage called Champions League, the “cruel and magic competition”. The optimism of winning the match has flown the players’ hope. However, after the first leg ended, their hope was devastated cruelly. There’s no reason to look back the past. Let’s see what is happening.

The first leg was held in Emirate Stadium. The players held the Gunner’s hope all around the world. The first-half match was not so special until the killing strike from Kondogbia tore down Ospina’s net. The unexpected goal has become a nightmare for Arsenal players. This made Arsenal lost their momentum, and be less creative since they were struck by Monaco’s disciplinary. Oxlade-Chamberlain, then, contributed a beautiful goal for Arsenal. However, it was too late for Arsenal since the score 1-3 has killed half of the match.

In the first leg, Arsenal has definitely understood that the opponent they were going to face was a team with the strongest defense in group stage of Champions League. The coach was definitely aware of the strategy to deal with a counter team with great defense. The players, as well, realized that they should play efficiently and shouldn’t make a single mistake, even once. Unfortunately, what happened in reality was in contrast with the idea they have planned.

One mistake is a small aspect in football match yet it affects massively. Passing the ball mistakenly would lead to another systematic mistake. First goal would trigger the next goal. The players were pressed and the system of the play was in trouble. Mental was the one that was fragile and continuously was crushed. The players seemed lost the significant grip in the match, which was URGENCY.

According to Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia (Official Indonesian Dicionary) urgency means “something really important”. Indeed, the players understood the meaning of playing on the prestigious stage such as Champions League. They also recognized the cause and effect of playing in this match, negatively and positively. However, the way they played on that match did not describe them all. Per Mertesacker admitted that Monaco deserved to pass to the next level since they played better than Arsenal in the first leg. Koscielny, even, agreed that the first leg was catastrophic or on another word it was a serious disaster.

To win a match, a team must know their responsibility and do it precisely. They must realize that they are holding a big responsibility called a hope. Mental is always the first asset in this case. They deserve a high expectation when they are considered as more “capable” than the guest. Self-value has been ever discussed in my previous article. The fact that Arsenal was failed to understand and execute the value of urgency in the Champions League was a shame.

Freud and Anxiety

Why was Arsenal failed to build up the mental players and execute the urgency? Sigmund Freud states that there are three types of anxiety in human; reality anxiety, neurotic anxiety, and moral anxiety.

Reality anxiety occurs when the ego becomes completely overwhelmed by threats of external nature. Neurotic anxiety is related to instinct. Moral anxiety, on the other hand, is interrelated to a fear of self-consciousness. Arsenal, in this case, was trapped between two types of anxiety, reality and moral.

The reality anxiety in Arsenal’s body came from two sides; expectation and the opponent. In the beginning of the season, Arsenal was known that it has a great squad. Even three world champion players were included in the team. When there was a transfer window in January, Arsenal brought a splendid center back. After the big-sixteen rounds have been successfully passed, Arsenal could “breathe freely” for the giant teams could be avoided. In contrast, Arsenal was going to meet Monaco, a team from the pot 4 that is “less popular”.

At this point, the expectation to reach the big-eight rounds was high enough. It’s obviously seen that Arsenal never becomes the winner of Champions League. In addition, fighting against Monaco was considered as stepping a smooth way. When the point of burden has reached the top, a man will suffer. The Arsenal players felt that burden of expectation and it affected their performance on the field. The anxiety of fulfilling the expectation from many sides was clearly spotted.

The anxiety has been turned into a burden when the real threat was seen coming from AS Monaco. The France club came with the predicate as a team with the best defense in group stage of Champions League. Their opponents in the group round were not deemed “prestigious enough”. However, we shouldn’t put aside the fact that this is a stage of Champions League with an incredible tense. Monaco played calmly and confidently with a firm defense. They needed a trigger to change the match, a goal.

A long-range shot from Kondogbia was like a hell for Arsenal. For Monaco, the goal just made has strengthening their mental and confident. The rest was disaster for the host. The threat of counter-attack and the high expectation have made the Arsenal players stuck. The defeat was a common result for a team with no maturity in playing that failed them to control the pressure.

Anxiety got bigger and it directed to another anxiety. The defeat has made Arsenal down. The feeling of guilty and regret filled up most of the heart. Their moral was bothered for they were failed to make their fans smile. The hurt conscience, expectation, and score 1-3 have made Arsenal fallen.

Indeed, Arsenal rose and made five-time victories in turn after the first leg was over. However, the anxiety could not be ignored in the second leg. Before the match was held, I did emphasize the significance of playing efficiently. It seemed that the efficiency level of Arsenal was not built appropriately. Anxiety has held their legs and creativity. It ruined their hope and future. Now, it’s the time to rise and stare at the responsibility with open eyes and heart.

“Pressure always comes to greet us, yet it’s back to us to brush it off.”


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