If you are a regular reader of my posts, then you know I’m generally unperturbed by Spurs. For example, I hate Chelsea much more than Tottenham. Guess I’ve just never taken Spurs seriously. Had I been a bit younger (I’m 22), I could have said Tottenham haven’t finished above Arsenal in my entire lifetime. As it is, I can say they’ve never finished above Arsenal since I’ve started supporting Wenger’s men. I’m used to it. Like I’m used to Wenger himself.
However the sense of occasion was such that I was sucked in. I’m still enjoying it and I think I will for a while. The reason for this is twofold, I think: their dirty players, most of whom I strongly dislike for their behavior and their arrogance. I don’t see much sense in stopping to explain my first point: you’ve all seen their horrible antics during the Chelsea game. And it’s not like they just did something unnatural for them, breaking under the weight of their failed title bid: to me their true nature came to the fore. They’ve always been like this, we’ve seen it in individual episodes, now we’ve seen what it looks like when it comes together. As for my second point…
Every year at least one Spurs player has the arrogance to give an interview, in which he states, in unequivocal terms, that Spurs will finish above Arsenal, that this is the year, that this is the best Spurs’ team in decades, etc. etc. etc. This year it was Walker, I think, though it’s not important really. Seeing them fail once again, capitulating like that is…
Glorious. It’s exceptionally funny. It’s satisfying. While the manner in which Spurs collapsed amplifies the feeling. They needed a point from an already-relegated side to stay 2nd. Instead they lost, they lost resoundingly and everyone who has at least seen the highlights from the game at St. James will say Spurs deserved to lose. They were much, much less threatening than Newcastle, even more so with 11 vs 10.
Without the benefit of hindsight, Spurs needed 5 points from 4 games to finish 2nd. With it, they needed just three. Instead they got 2, let leads against Chelsea and West Brom slip, before losing to Southampton at home and taking a beating in the last game. We talked about Arsenal bottling it for months on end, but then how should we call what Spurs did? This is such an epic, unknown to mankind, level of bottling that had their been a prize called “Golden Bottle” for bottling, Spurs would somehow manage to bottle it too and come 2nd. Or 3rd, most likely.
However enough about them. I’m 400 words in and have better things to discuss with you. Let’s shoot to the best moments of our 4-0 win.
I was surprised by such a strong squad. Indeed, upon reflection I think it’s close to our strongest squad (w/o Welbeck and any potential signings) and definitely the strongest in the manager’s eye (yes, I still fancy Chambers over Gabriel).
I was a tad disappointed not to see Rosicky and Walcott even included. I have a suspicion Gibbs will stay with us, so it’s not a big deal he didn’t play, while Oxlade and Mertesacker, even if they leave, were physically unable to play.
However it was strange to see neither Rosicky nor Walcott. Wenger said there were things at stake for him to include Tomas, but surely the veteran wouldn’t have spoilt anything with a cameo? Arteta didn’t, after all.
As for Walcott, I’d be hugely surprised if he stays, so I fully expected him to make one final appearance. Instead Campbell did, which I guess means we’ll be parting company with the Costa-Rican too. Huge shame if this happens. The man’s a professional, a good squad player if nothing else and very much likes to play for Arsenal. If I could keep only one of him, Oxlade and Theo to stay, Joel would win the contest hands down.
However the squad we’ve seen left a very nice impression indeed. It was extremely pleasing to see all of our players pull in the same direction, be on the same wavelength (barring a few rusty moments from Jack and some shakiness from Gabriel) and give their all in the last game. The Cazorla – Coquelin axis has been restored and it became painfully clear just how much we’ve missed Santi’s presence. May he stay with us till he’s 36 and may he never get injured again.
Na na Giroud
I don’t think it’s really the case, but it looks like Welbeck’s injury has reinvigorated Giroud big time. He was all smiles on Sunday, he was relaxed and focused on his job at the same time, he scored two of his trademark goals (and then bagged an uncharacteristic 3rd) and it was very nice to see the Frenchman like that.
Yes, his goals come in cycles, yes, he can be woeful when off-form, but look at the numbers. Ollie finished as our top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions, he directly contributed to 22 goals in the league (think only Ozil with 25 contributed to more) and he played IN EVERY SINGLE LEAGUE GAME. Overall he featured 54 times this season, falling only one game short of playing in every one of our games because of a red card.
He has his shortcomings, no doubt here, some of these Arsene acknowledged and vowed to rectify via the transfer market, but really, if you think Giroud is a useless lamppost that should be sold, you are an idiot. Only Aguero this season has a better minutes-per-goal ratio (w/o pens). Olivier Giroud is among the best strikers in the league and should be respected and lauded for his quality.
Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta (and Mathieu Flamini)
Lastly I would like to pay my respects to the three footballers leaving our Club. I’ll start with our captain.
Mikel came to Arsenal five years ago at a very hard time. To his enormous credit, he steadied this ship with his presence, his leadership qualities and his on-pitch example. The Spaniard was a key figure in central midfield for three years, before the injuries got the better of him. However his contribution shouldn’t be forgotten, or diminished, because he only played a handful of games during the last two seasons. As shouldn’t be his professional attitude. Yesterday Mikel got the send-off he deserves and I can only hope he’ll stay at Arsenal in a coaching capacity from next season on.
Get your replica wall clock here
For Rosicky, this season marked his ten years at the Club. In these ten years he did something few footballers do nowadays: he stayed loyal. I’m very sad Tomas only managed 246 appearances for us, injuries robbed us of a great player. We can only guess what his continuous on-pitch presence could have brought. Like with Arteta, I’m not sure where Tomas goes from here, but I would like to wish them both all the luck in their future.
Finally, Mathieu Flamini. He was hardly the centre of attention, which is probably linked with the way he parted ways with the Club last time around and his lesser recent impact, compared to that of Arteta’s and Rosicky’s. However I’d still like to express my gratitude to him. During his 2nd stint with us Mathieu had his great moments, but most of the time suffered the fans’ wrath owing to playing in a system/midfield pairing that hardly suited his style. I have to admit even I grew less patient with the Frenchman this season.
However all three have one thing in common: the love for the shirt. I don’t doubt they gave their all every time they played and I don’t doubt all three deserve their share of gratitude at a time when loyalty is a dying quality among modern players. Here’s to you, guys.
The last word
In the end it was a glorious last day in the sun and isn’t this what it’s all about? There’ll come a time when we’ll sit down with cooler heads and go over our season, but for now…
For now just enjoy the feeling a good game of football can bring. And I’ll be back with you in a while.
Up the Arsenal