Please forgive your humble narrator, but I’m in a bit of a rant mode right now…
Last night there was a cup competition that was won by a certain London team that was not Arsenal. It was won in the harshest of fashions against Benfica in the last twenty seconds. We all know who that team was that won it. But what I want to know is:
Where are all of the footballing gods? What ever happened to karma?
Somebody needs to explain to me how a team that makes a mockery of financial fair play, has a captain that if he wasn’t a professional footballer would be doing time, a left-back mercenary that will swerve off the road at the thought of a £55,000-a-week deal, as well as fans that boo their own (interim) manager, win yet another European trophy. How is this possible? What sort of monkeys paw do they possess that every other team does not?
Last season we had them being outplayed in no-less than three Champions League competitions and still emerge with the trophy on penalties. And now this? Why? When Roberto Di Matteo sold his soul for the luck of a thousand leprechauns last year, was there enough left over for this season as well?
I genuinely despair sometimes. All victories last night tell me are that if you throw enough money at a situation you’re going to win football competitions. And that saddens me. I am not naive. I know that football is now just as much a business as it is a recreation for some of us (although I can’t say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it very much – too many nerves, especially of late!), but I wake up this morning and feel sad that the only way to compete in this football world of ours is to have your very own billionaire bankrolling the club.
I love the way Arsenal are trying to achieve success. It’s the last bastion of hope I have that we can. It’s the final thing that we can hold over Chelski fans i.e. one man bought you success, the collective entity that is The Arsenal (fans, players, board, etc) achieved ours. But on mornings like today all I feel is bitterness. Bitterness and a worry that FFP will be as useful as a fork with soup. I don’t want us to go the same route as Chelski and have Usmanov use us as his plaything. No, what I want is to see football succeed more over financial doping, a la Wigan triumphing in the FA Cup over Moneychester City.
I think it’s probably also made worse by the fact that I live and work in London and I’m surrounded by ‘johnny-come-lately’ Chelski fans. Yep, you guessed it, the type that wave the flags placed on their seats by their club to create an atmosphere.
Anyway, I’ve calmed down now and am happy to just focus on Arsenal because, let’s face it we’ve got a very big game on Sunday afternoon. A season defining game. Because the game is away, I’m not sure if Arsene will do his presser today or tomorrow, but I’m sure we’ll know soon enough.
The most pressing concern will be whether or not Mikel Arteta is fit to play. Last season I wrote a blog stating how I’d completely underestimated how important the Spaniard is to our team, and if he is out for this weekend, it will most definitely be a hole in the midfield that we will find difficult to replace. Yes, we have very talented players that can come in like Wilshire, but he is not a like-for-like replacement for Arteta, and there are also question-marks over his fitness. Mikel is a player that keeps us ticking over. Always available for the back four to release to the ball to, his accuracy of passing this season has be phenomenal, he really is ‘Mr Dependable’. He supports the build up play for us expertly and his energy and drive is something that has been vital to our success this season. If he is injured for the game, I suspect Le Boss will opt for Jack, but the midfield will have to shuffle around a bit more. We’ll probably see Ramsey anchored as the deepest lying midfielder and Jack will probably need to curb his natural enthusiasm for getting forward, because Rosicky will no doubt occupy that position and Jack will no doubt suffer for his ability to be a bit more versatile than the Czech. Jack and Tomas are very similar in what they bring to the team, so one of the two might need to be a slightly squarish peg for the midfield round hole we’ll need filling. We shall wait and see I guess.
Since the Wigan victory we’ve also seen Arsene speak about the nerves of the players before games. Not exactly what you want to hear as a fan before the season finale, but he does temper that response by saying that there has been that in place for a while now and we have still managed to win games. The only worry from this here writers perspective is that it doesn’t become so nervous on that pitch that it inhibits the players natural abilities and desire for success. Whilst we’d obviously much rather be in the position that we are in rather than the Spuds, the fact that they know it’s out of their hands will probably allow them to play with more freedom than our players. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Tottenham have won by three or four goals come 6pm on Sunday. As for us, well, you and I both know that it won’t be that easy. There is no way in a million years that we’ll see the same Newcastle side that gave Liverpool the freedom of St.James’ Park to roam a few weeks ago. Nope, we’ll have to do it the hard way.
The nerves and that adrenaline Arsene speaks of has to be used as an advantage. It has to be used as the steam that powers the engine forward and on to victory. If you’re a professional footballer that plays for one of the bigger clubs, the only way you can succeed is through a combination of skill, hard-work, determination and the ability to handle pressure. I’ll put my faith in whoever goes out there on Sunday and hope they have all of the above.
Anyway, not a lot else going on that I can see at the moment, so I’ll leave you to the rest of your day.