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Monday, 2 May 2011

Springtime for Arsenal

Sunday’s triumphant victory over Man Utd was tinged with the bittersweet regret about what might have been, if only the Gunners had been able to reproduce such an accomplished display on a more regular basis. Moreover there was little satisfaction knowing we’d kicked the door of the Premiership title chase open, only to offer Chelsea the chance to drive though.

Nevertheless I was so desperate for the Arsenal’s faltering season to end on a high note (or at least out last significant encounter) that I was fully prepared to pull out all the superstitious stops. The omens seemed auspicious on Sunday morning; from the moment all four of Sky’s journo pundits plumped for a Man Utd win. But when the time came to head around to the ground, the thought occurred to me that perhaps I was to blame for our recent miserable run, by altering my habitually tardy traits of old and arriving in good time for the previous few games.

Having made a conscious decision to don the exact same attire I’d worn to Bloomfield Road, the last time we’d enjoyed success against Blackpool, thankfully I heard the news of Cesc’s withdrawal on the radio just as I was heading out the door, thereby affording me with the excuse to dawdle a little longer, while I went back to change my Fabregas t-shirt. On the radio they were already speculating about whether our captain had played his last game for the club. So I didn’t feel appropriately dressed, potentially expressing my support for the Arsenal’s past, when I should be showing my faith in a propitious future.

Who knows whether Cesc truly tweaked a hamstring, or if his criticisms in the Spanish press caused him to be excluded (and if Arsène has agreed to let him return to Spain, can Barca stump up sufficient spondulicks)? Whatever the case, from my point of view, Cesc's absence proved providential, with it seemingly timed to coincide with Aaron Ramsey rising Phoenix-like from the flames of Ryan Shawcross’ savagery,. It afforded a midfield triumvirate of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song an opportunity to finally come of age, without them constantly looking to our incredibly talented but disaffected captain for evidence of leadership.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve witnessed far too many false dawns over the past half dozen seasons for me to go overboard, following this single goal victory over such a relatively mediocre incarnation of Fergie's Champions-in-waiting. I’m sure that if a single point hadn’t been sufficient for the visitors, psychologically their approach to the game might’ve been a little less unadventurous.

However this good old-fashioned “1-0 to the Arsenal” was a win which will have warmed the cockle’s of le Gaffer’s increasingly overtaxed heart. With the vultures of the media gleefully gobbling at the once again ravaged remains of Wenger’s vision and with le Boss visibly wilting in the face of the pressure for him to accept the folly of his failed experiment, his young charges finally produced the sort of spirited, faith-restoring goods to placate his critics, with a poignant reminder that indeed “Arsene Knows”!

I only hope that this “too little, too late” triumph isn’t the sort of delusory fuel that will encourage him to carry on regardless. Leaving aside the obvious frailities responsible for falling at the last fence in this and successive failed attempts to finish the Premiership course, I've always argued that the principal missing “do or die” ingredient of a winning “team” spirit simply can’t be purchased off the shelf.

Apart from the obvious euphoric instant when Ramsay’s shot left Van Der Saar flailing in it’s wake, personally speaking, it was Koscielny’s second-half cameo which was most inspiring, as our intrepid centre-back pinched the ball and went charging up the park, with a presence and a determination to influence proceedings, which was positively Tony Adams like.

Yet despite the burgeoning evidence, in the wholly committed attitudes of the likes of Sczczny, Koscielny, Wilshere and Ramsay that Arsène’s green-fingered endeavours are finally beginning to bear fruit, yet another barren season stands as testament to the need for Arsène to accept that he simply cannot afford to continue tending the Gunners garden entirely single-handed.

If you hark back to oft quoted aphorism about the necessity for either changing the manager, or the team, every five years, then it seem evident that changes are required both off and on the pitch. To continue the horticultural analogy, unlike all those misguided idiots, who want to dig over the entire ground and start from scratch, I firmly believe le Gaffer's great project will begin to bear silverware laden fruit, if only he'd turn for some help from the sort of Arsenal agronomists who are capable of ruthless pruning and tender watering in equal measure.

Meanwhile, as weary as we might be with our years of wandering the wilderness, awaiting our arrival at the Promised Land, Sunday’s victory does at least offer a glimpse of the sort of footballing milk & honey we might enjoy on arrival, if we’re patient enough to keep the faith.
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supersammy08 said...

Certainly points well made Sir. However, you say the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Sczczny and Koscielny are 'finally beginning to bear fruit'; what fruit are you refering to here?

My immediate thoughts go to the Koscielny and Sczczny fiasco in the Carling Cup final, which resulted in the exact opposite of fruit bearing.

supersammy08 said...