Not too long ago there was a lot of gloating from Sp*rs fans. ‘Mind the gap’ was their particular favourite. We tried to tell them that nothing is decided in January, but would they listen? Oh no, the best side that Sp*rs had seen in the last 50 years was far superior than the worst side in Arsene Wenger’s reign. Then we got to last night and we overtook them in the league table.
Not a single Sp*rs fan was anywhere to be seen.
I don’t know what’s happened to this side. I don’t know what clicked or cracked or shattered or broke when that second Sp*rs goal went in against us at the Emirates, but something did. It was like the whole team, collectively, just went ‘fuck this shit’ and started fighting back. They found a spine, a spirit. They located the handbrake and not only took it off but threw it out the window.
I’m not going to do a proper match report, others will be along later in the day with that sort of thing and by now I’m sure you already know what happened. We went to Everton and for the first while played them off the park, even the commentator remarked how it was some of the best football he had seen all season. Then we had a period when some stupid pills clearly kicked in, but we rocked and wobbled, yet held firm. I read a stat that the back four unit of Sagna, Kos, Vermaelen, and Gibbs are unbeaten this season. It kinda makes a difference having a ‘proper’ back four back there huh? Who’d have thought it.
We withstood serious Everton pressure and didn’t crack. We looked to hit on the break and probably could have nabbed a few more, but in the end, the famous one nil to the Arsenal prevailed to take us in to third place.
Afterwards Wenger said “We showed a side of us that usually people don’t know. It was the only way to get a result tonight. It was good to know that we can do that as well. We didn’t panic, we did well on crosses which is usually not our strong point. We didn’t panic and that is good for us.
“I was always optimistic, because if you look at our results from October onwards we only had one bad spell when we lost three times on the trot because we had no full backs. The attitude of the team was always good, so I felt we could bounce back. We needed to be strong because we were under a lot of pressure and we will need that until the end of the season. Where we come from, we know what suffering means because in some press conferences I had to answer ‘are you playing not to go down’. We know we have a difficult battle in front of us.”
I know a season doesn’t start in October, and our start is what has cost us any chance of challenging for the title, but ask yourself how crazy it seemed to even say that statement a few months back. The way this team has played, the desire, the heart, the fight and willingness has been what we’ve been crying out for so long. What changed I don’t know, perhaps it’s van Persie’s captaincy, perhaps it’s the removal of some of the so-called stars. Perhaps Thierry brought a little magic potion with him and sprinkled it on them when they slept. Whatever it is, as nervous as I was last night when we were being pressed and harried by a committed Everton side, I never feared that if we conceded one we would crumble like we have in games gone past.
This Arsenal side is a different beast now.
First they said that we would fall out of the Champions League places but it was Liverpool. Then it was Liverpool again, now it looks very like it might be Chelsea. They always say it will be us but we are now one point ahead of Sp*rs, six ahead of Chelsea, eight ahead of Newcastle and 13 ahead of Liverpool.
They spent. We built.
Arsene knows. He may not always know best. But he still knows better than most.
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