There are, in this life, few things better than watching Arsenal win, watching Arsenal win big is one of them, as is watching Arsenal win over a despised rival or team with more money than sense or class. When Arsenal aren’t playing joy comes from watching said rivals/mouthy teams failing to win – if they can lose it’s even better and so it came to be yesterday. Some fans were trying to tell me that I shouldn’t care about what other teams do, just concentrate on Arsenal and if that is your attitude I really do feel sorry for you. Wanting your rivals to fail is as much a part of football as wanting your own team to win, if both can happen at the same time then that, for me, is the perfect footballing day.
With Arsenal not taking to the field until tomorrow Sp*rs had the chance to overhaul us in third place and do some damage to the goal difference, alas, it was too much for the greatest side their club has produced in the last 50 years, and the went down to the Canaries quicker than Gareth Bale when he gets near the box. ‘Arry blamed the fans for his tactics “They’re always saying we play better 4-4-2” was something along the lines of what he said before adding that he didn’t agree. Clearly he had just decided to play that way to make a point that he knows better than the fans. Obviously. This was followed by Chelsea being held to a draw by the other side in Fulham. It was a very sweet Easter indeed.
People are pointing towards Newcastle who now sit level with Sp*rs just two points behind us but I’m not overly worried about them. Newcastle’s run-in is horrendous, Bolton, Stoke, Wigan, Chelsea, City, Everton while Sp*rs have to face QPR, Blackburn, Bolton, Villa and Fulham. Chelsea’s run in consists of facing us, QPR, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Blackburn, with two games against Barcelona and a cup semi against Sp*rs thrown in for good measure. For us, well we have Wolves, Wigan, Chelsea, Stoke, Norwich and West Brom and we could quite feasibly be eight points clear of Sp*rs and 10 clear of Chelsea before they play in the league again should we win our next two. We have our game in hand and Newcastle’s goal difference is significantly poorer than ours. We also managed to extended our goal difference lead over Sp*rs to three without kicking a ball and it’s four better than Chelsea’s. It was a very good day without us having to do anything and it really is in our own hands so let’s hope that we are Szczesny rather than Almunia when it comes to holding on to it.
Of course, none of this means anything should we contrive to give Wolves their first league win since 1897 and a performance akin to the one we saw against City is required rather than a stroll about the park like we tried to get away with against QPR. Wolves might be woeful but that hasn’t stopped us losing to shit teams before, and when a team are fighting for their Premier League lives no chances should be taken.
Vermaelen has been speaking about how organisation has been the key to our revival and you can’t argue that at times at the start of the season we had as much organisation as a bunch of angry bees in a hot honeypot. He then went on to speak about how “every game will be hard” and how the team have to focus and I don wonder if they’ve finally managed to sort out the attention-deficit disorder which has a tendency to strike this team collectively, usually against so-called ‘lesser’ clubs. With a run which reds WWWWWWWLW it would point to that being a ‘yes’ however deep wounds heal slowly and I’ll wait until the end of the season at least before I make a judgement on that.
If the Arsenal side have ever been in any doubt as to what finishing below Sp*rs would mean to the supporters, TV and his chums have been put straight pretty much every time they leave the house, saying “I have only been here for three years but I know there is a big rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal. I hear it every day on the streets, they ask us to be above Tottenham at the end of the season. But we can only look at ourselves and just play. If we win every game, we will finish on top of them, so that is what we will try to do.”
In a season which started so horrendously and was so fractious there is finally a real feeling of togetherness. I believe that comes from seeing the team actually care. Fans, for the most part, will forgive lack of talent or bad luck, but they will be merciless when they think the players just don’t give a toss about the shirt they themselves would bleed to wear. There is no denying that there have been many points over the past seasons when the team either didn’t seem to care or were so arrogant they thought games were won before they’d even kicked off. The handbrake was not so much a device for stopping the team as their own mental attitude was and I do believe this added to the anger and frustration of a lot of fans. Watching how this team performs as a unit, closing down and defending from the front has gone a long way to soothing many angry fans. We might have been ‘lucky’ in some of our wins in this latest run, but in this game, if you refuse to give up you often find that you get ‘lucky’ more often than not.
So, same again tomorrow and let’s stretch this gap. Team news in tomorrow, blog, which goes live every morning at 9.30am GMT. If you’d like it delivered straight to your inbox, you can subscribe here.
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