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Sunday 15 May 2016

"It's Happened Again...."

After events at Wigan, West Brom etc. in similarly hilarious end of season shenanigans in recent years, one would've thought we'd have grown accustomed to Spurs falling on their face, to the extent that it should no longer come as a surprise when they do. 

Nevertheless, it seems I mistakenly assumed that this young Spurs squad no longer carries the sort of psychological baggage that's resulted in them bottling it in the past, to the extent that I was convinced that surely they weren't going to blow it at St James Park this afternoon. Myself I felt that at the very most, the Toon might manage an honours even draw, to appease the St James Park faithful.

I was taken to task a couple of weeks back, for suggesting that such would be the unexpected pleasure of pegging Spurs back at this late stage, that it would almost be as satisfying as winning the league. I had to agree that obviously I would much prefer to be in Leicester's exalted shoes right now. Yet after the incredibly euphoric events this afternoon, I feel sure that there are plenty of Gooners who will concur that this was indeed some consolation prize?

We caught a glimpse against Villa of quite how much we've missed Santi's incisive promptings. Yet as I stood in the sunshine, soaking up the sort of celebratory post-match mood that's been sorely missed at home games for most of the season, I couldn't avoid one negative thought as I watched Arsène enjoying some rare plaudits.

In the absence of such an ecstatic ending, the pressure would've been ramped up for Arsène to flash the cash, but watching le Gaffer's satisfied face as he wandered around the pitch, it occurred to me that he might be contemplating the emerging likes of Chris Willock, Dan Crowley and Stephy Mavididi and thinking "I hardly need to break the bank after our highest finish in over a decade"!!

Have a good summer

"It's Happened Again...."

"We want him to stay....Pochettino, we want him to stay!"

Just how does one account for a season which was the source of so much anger and frustration amongst our fans and yet which has ended up with our highest league finish since we moved to our new stadium (over a decade back)? I think it was Napoleon who spoke about the benefits of a lucky general, over a competent one and Arsène certainly had “the force” on his side on Sunday!

Personally I felt that the game was up in midweek, as far as any possibility of quite such an ecstatic finish was concerned, when Everton condemned the Toon to relegation, by rolling over against Sunderland. After successive seasons of tangible FA Cup success, it seemed as if this campaign was destined to fall decidedly flat, with constantly maintaining our seat at Europe’s top table for two decades as scant consolation for the Gunners’ lamentable failure to take advantage of the bizarre domestic circumstances; especially when the rare opportunity of all our traditional competitors tripping up is unlikely to present itself again.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and after having pooh, poohed my pals customary “you never know” comments as we made our way to our seats on Sunday, it wasn’t long before I found myself focused more on the radio commentary from St. James Park, than the match taking place in front of me. With the only terrace tranny in our vicinity, I fast became the font of all knowledge, with a sea of faces turning with their jaws on the floor, agog at my incredulous announcement that the Toon had taken a two-goal lead.

Who'll replace Tommy
Arteta and Flamini?
         Much like a Mexican wave, the tide of jubilation washed over our crowd, injecting some much needed atmosphere into proceedings, which had turned increasingly perfunctory since Olly’s early goal. However, as has been the case far too frequently this season, the Gunners struggled to kill Villa off. Then when Spurs pulled a goal back on the hour mark and this was swiftly followed with my news that Mitrovic had been sent off, the whole stadium was enveloped in a stifling air of anxiety, where briefly we looked more in danger of gifting Villa an equaliser.

Mercifully there followed the sort of magical five-minute spell that is the barely credible essence of the beautiful game’s enduring fascination. First the 10-man Toon extended their lead from the penalty spot and then Giroud truly kicked the party off, by completing his hat-trick. The cherry on this “couldn’t make it up” script came, when in a moment akin to Tony Adams league-winning goal, Arteta appeared off the bench, to sign off on his Arsenal career, by scoring our fourth (aided and abetted by Villa’s hapless keeper).

News of Newcastle’s 4th and 5th goals was greeted with utter disbelief, as the afternoon turned even more delicious than the dodgy lasagna denouement of 2006. The rapturous chorus of “it’s happened again” must’ve had them burying their heads at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

That we’ve not witnessed this sort of euphoria at a home game, since we walloped Man Utd back in October (not forgetting the brilliant victory over Bayern) speaks volumes as to why, ultimately, we’ve ended up empty-handed. Not that we knew it at the time, but it was only the weekend prior that we battered the Foxes 5-2, inflicting their only home defeat all season. Upon reflection, this is the most blatant evidence that we were the side that was most capable of winning the title. So as much as the Foxes deserve full credit for their momentous achievement, there’s no escaping the enormous disappointment at how badly we’ve blown it.

Meanwhile, no matter how infuriated I might feel at how different the outcome might’ve been, if only the Gunners had turned up at Southampton on Boxing Day and avoided a humiliating 0-4 disaster, fortunately all Gooner irritation paled into insignificance on Sunday.

Mikel signing off in style
Not many of our spoiled, far too entitled fans would’ve lingered for the post-match lap of appreciation, if Newcastle had failed to do us such a fabulous favour and doubtless the protestors banners’ will be back with next season’s first defeat. Yet even if it should’ve prove fleeting, it was great to be able to enjoy the emotion, as a blubbing Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini bid us a last farewell and for our inimical boss to disappear off to look for his cheque book this summer, with a hearty (full-house!) chorus of  “only one Arsène Wenger” ringing in his ears.
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Razib Ahmed said...

I have been an Arsenal fan since 1988. Life before Arsene Wenger was not very pleasant. Wenger came and changed the way we played. Attractive football at its best. However, he was unlucky that Arsenal had to build a stadium. Fans were not so pleased with Premier League Title and they wanted CL Title. Henry left for Barcelona and some players got impatient too. Fabregas left. Wenger had to build a new team out of almost nothing. Fans are again unhappy but Arsenal won FA Cup twice in the last 3 seasons and this time finished second in Premier League. It seems that fans are doing the same mistake out of desperation.

Unknown said...

Wenger out. Please