I go about my daily routine, pittering and pattering about the premises and seeing the itinerary through, when I look at the thing and do a double-take. It stirs the memory a mite; like an old friend you meet over olives and cocktails many years later and can’t place. I go over to the thingamajig and give it a touch- yup, definitely familiar. Every crest and trough tells happy and sad stories, every bump and blemish knowingly nods at you.
“Nicks,” it says, acknowledging my presence.
“Laptop keyboard,” I say solemnly, offering rebuttal acknowledgment.
It has been over a month since I flushed anything down the drain that passes as my section on this website, and I duly apologizing for returning. But the umbilical cord connecting me and the brave red-and-white knights of North London has been pulling with palpable force over the past few weeks. Arsenal are playing well, have been playing well over the past ten games in fact; and this end-of-season winning run is a pleasantly surprising deviation from the usual dismantling of nuts and bolts that results in the Arsene Wenger choo-choo getting derailed for yet another term.
We’ve had all sorts of wins in that ten-game period: putting on a hoodie, flicking a knife in Liverpool’s direction and robbing them of all three big ones, Scouse style; just about dodging the sucker punch, straightening our boxing gloves and channelling Floyd Mayweather against Tottenham; and driving an old Fiat well within the speed limit against Wolves, fingers glued to handbrake and eyes diligently on the road.
Talking about the last of the aforementioned matches, I’d agree that the red card in the 8th minute ruined the game as a spectacle (using the word ‘spectacle’ as loosely as Harrry Redknapp uses tax money) but the decision was validated by the rule-book, as barmy as the rule-book is. Last man commits a foul, red card, one game suspension; that’s just how the cookie crumbles. I spent a few seconds feeling sorry for Wolves, but fortunately the team didn’t. After Robin van Persie’s impudent chip broke a mini-drought, an interchange of passes between English speedster and Dutch stylist released Walcott to sweep it past Hennessey once again. High-octane start and two goals to show for it, Arsenal had all the opportunity to go for the proverbial jugular.
Except they didn’t really need to. Instead of breaking their backs against a team in poor form and a man down, Arsenal slowed the pace of the game down and broke the record of most successful passes in a Premier League match this season. Wenger’s teams have often been accused of playing like they’re 2-0 up when it’s 0-0, but on Wednesday we played like we were 2-0 up when we were 2-0 up. Sound plan if there ever was one.
Not to say we slacked off or anything. Pressing was still rife; but it was more of hunting in packs when the opportunity presented itself rather than a potentially counter-productive emptying of all cylinders. Ferocious pressing in moderation, pinging the ball about without over-straining any sinew, marked professionalism in every facet. It was the sort of performance Man United would have given (not against Wigan etc.); like a return of 27 points in 30 is something Man United would have given as well. Arsenal are in title-winning form.
And thus we arrive at the irritating bone in the middle of the sumptuous chicken-leg. You need to be in title winning form throughout the season to win the title, barring one bad period at most. Arsenal have had two good, consistent periods of play and two horrendous runs of draws, losses and confidence-sapping performances. The reasons for these are well-documented, but the butt-naked fact underneath is that two bad periods are too much. Delicious mayonnaise sandwiched between two slices of rancid bread is still rancid.
But like our downward slide from last season continued well into the start of this, precipitated and amplified by the Apocalypse Now transfer window we had; so we must hope the thermal we find ourselves on currently takes us to some sort of heights next season. Positive domino effect, it might just be possible. Same work ethic, same core of players with some additional paraphernalia to prettify and strengthen our play, and who knows…
Self-slap, and another self-slap. No getting lulled into false sense of security and thinking the season is over. Wigan on Monday is the most important match in the world for us now, until it gets over; rinse and repeat till mid-May. And it can take its own sweet time in coming. Despite looking ahead to next season, I don’t want this season to end. Because with new seasons often come new Arsenal avatars. And this current avatar fills my spirit with joie de vivre. Please don’t go, current Arsenal avatar.
This post also appeared on BigFourZa------------
If you’ve been having problems accessing this site on your work computer using the URLS globalgooners.com and gossip.globalgooners.com should sort that problem for you.
Get your free LadyArse app here for Android, BlackBerry and Windows phone [iPhone coming soon]
Get your free Arsenal wallpaper, Facebook covers and Twitter headers here