Well, who saw that coming, then?
Massive, massive news this morning. Although it has yet to be officially confirmed by Arsenal, the Mirror’s story that Arsenal have agreed a £170m, 5 year kit deal with Puma is being talked about so openly, it’s difficult to think of it as anything other than a done deal. It is also a deal, as of today, that stands as the biggest kit deal in English football. Which is some acheivement for Arsenal’s commercial team, bearing in mind the almost farcical levels of ineptitude that the season has, at times, descended into.
Oh, wait… you didn’t really think I was going to begin this blog talking about Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to retire at the end of the season, did you? I don’t want to spend too much time on it as, you know, he is the Manchester United manager- at least for a little while longer. However, even as someone who has always been an Arsenal fan first and a football fan second (except for a dark period in the mid 80′s when I was too young to know any better), I can appreciate the massive impact Alex Ferguson has had on the game. In particular, the way that once Arsenal had put a dent in Liverpool’s dominance of the national game, United quickly ended it once for and for all. I am full of admiration for the way in which he has been able to reinvent his teams time and again and do so succesfully. Of course, the fact that he has had lorries full of cash has helped, but hey, money isn’t everything.
I will miss his penetrating stare. A stare so hard that he once made Fabien Barthez give himself a wedgie after the goalkeeper had just gifted Thierry Henry two late goals to seal a 3-1 win at Highbury in 2001, using only the power of telekinesis. That’s pretty impressive, you have to agree.
It seems that owner of another penetrating stare may be on his way from the blue half of Merseyside to take over the reigns.
Anyway, that’s enough about that. If the kit deal and the retirement of the longest serving manager in English football isn’t enough for you, then how about a game tonight that may go some way to shaping Arsenal’s immediate future? A game that we’re not even playing in. Tonight Chelsea take on Spurs and, unless you want Arsenal not to qualify for the Champions League because you’re stupid enough to think that it would be in the club’s best interests to spend Thursday nights schlepping around European towns nobody’s ever heard of, then you’re praying for a Chelsea win. Or maybe a draw. Or you’re not optimistic enough to think that a meteor strike may descend on SW6 sometime around 9pm this evening.
Ok, that isn’t likely, but if Spurs manage to pull off their first league win at Stamford Bridge since 1990, the consequences for Arsenal could be as cataclysmic as if our ground had been hit by a meteor. This is the game were’re counting on to keep ourselves just had ahead of Spurs with two games left*. But if the events of Sunday afternoon prove anything to us, it’s that you can’t rely on anything. I mean who would have thought Rafa Benitez could guide Chelsea to a win at the home of the champions? Has Fergie decided to resign out of shame at losing to the bearded one. On top of a late winner for Spurs against Southampton, it was a weekend of deflating results for the family of Gooners gathered in the New Forest.
*Incidentally- as someone who is a confessed Arsenal fan first, football fan second, I can tell you I won’t be wasting any nervous energy by watching the derby of the London wrong ‘uns.
Well, apart from that win against QPR that is. I’m not sure what it is about the team from west London, but for a team that just about stayed up last season and have gone down in abject fashion this time around, but we have made heavy weather of our fixtures against them over the last two seasons. As someone whose sister once held a season ticket at Loftus Road, this is a source of deep personal aggravation to me, but at least we got the win (more than I thought we’d get). Courtesy of a very nice goal from Theo Walcott. After a couple of months off, I’m glad Theo has decided to join us again. Looks like it might be in the nick of time.
I may live to regret these words, but assuming Chelsea do the business tonight, if we can’t get maximum points from a Wigan team as good as down and a Newcastle team in disarray, then I’m not sure this Arsenal team deserves to be in the Champions League next season. I don’t know how that might affect any transfer deals, but (even as I become increasingly apathetic towards a competition Arsenal never seem capable of, you know, competing in) I’m assuming it won’t help. This, then, is a crucial period for Arsenal. How bizarre that we don’t play until this time next week.
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