April 10, 2012
Well that was a very pleasant Bank Holiday weekend.
The extra day off on the Monday seemed to be specifically designed to give us Gooners an opportunity to bask in the extended afterglow of Sunday’s heroics against Manchester City, on top of which we got to enjoy Chelsea succumbing to a late equaliser at Fulham and our cocky neighbours suffer their fourth defeat in eight games at home to Norwich. it was like being gently spooned after our hard exertions before being presented with a well deserved cup of tea.
What? Similar, no? Oh okay…
So it all leaves the league table looking very tasty indeed. With Wolves to come as our game in hand on Wednesday we find ourselves four points clear of Chelsea and two clear of Spurs who have mustered just 14 points from their last 13 games. How’s that title chase going, Harry?
Newcastle’s strong run has brought them within two points as well but they face a very tough last five including games against Man City and Chelsea. All of which means that Wednesday’s game is a massive opportunity for us to give ourselves a bit of a cushion in third place ahead of the final push. Wolves may be bottom of the table and on a run of six straight defeats but anything less than maximum effort can not be tolerated. We all know it would be just typical of Arsenal to put in a performance of that quality and beat a team like City on the Sunday and then let it slip against a relegation battling side. I mean, we only have to look back as far as last week. But hopefully the close proximity of our most recent dalliance with turning up and expecting to win will be enough to warn against a repeat.
We simply have to beat Wolves. And I don’t want to see us clinging on to a 1-0 lead and defending corners in injury time with our hearts in our mouths. I want to see us five goals up at half time and cruising and then following that up with another four goals in the second half just for the hell of it (and the crucial goal difference). Spurs and Chelsea want to hand it to us. They’re desperate to hand it to us. If we don’t grab it from them this time with a wink and a cheeky smile I’m not sure I will ever get over it.
In any other season a run of eight wins in nine games with just five to play would be the prelude to some sort of title chase. But this has been no ordinary season. Our two major slumps have cost us and while Spurs have at one time or another been talked about (or talked about themselves) this year as title contenders, we’ve never been in the race. Curious then that we still have the chance to finish above them. The form we’ve shown of late has been enough to convince Thomas Vermaelen that we could definitely mount a challenge next year though:
In some games we have shown a lot of quality and that we can compete with everybody. But you have to be consistent in the league and sometimes that’s not been the case for us. But we will try to do that better next year. I’m confident we can do that.
It’s no coincidence that the run of form has coincided with Vermaelen’s return to the side and his favoured position at centre back thanks to getting our full backs fit. It’s given us the shape that we missed for such large chunks of the year but as Tommy V points out, it’s not just about the defenders:
Defensively it’s about the organisation of the team. It’s not just about the defenders who defend, the whole shape of the team, and that’s really good at the moment so we must be really pleased with that. When everybody is fit we have a really good team and we can compete with everybody.
Although the title seems but a distant dream it’s good to hear that there’s no doubt what the goal needs to be for the rest of this season:
We are in a big fight for that third place. That is so important because finishing third gives you direct qualification for the Champions League. That is very important for the club and is our main target at the moment and I know about the rivalry between us and Tottenham. I hear it every day on the streets, people asking us to finish above Tottenham at the end of the season. We look to ourselves: if we win every game, we will finish above them.
Starting on Wednesday, Thomas. Starting on Wednesday. Don’t let me down.
That’s pretty much it today. I see Mario Balotelli has apologised to his agent, his national coach and his manager. How about an apology for Bacary Sagna and Alex Song, old boy? Seems to me they’d be a touch more deserving don’t you think?
Also Samir Nasri has agreed to bet Piers Morgan £10,000 that he’ll win a trophy with City before Arsenal do. That news story’s a whole heap of heartwarming for all sorts of reasons. What a lovely pair of blokes.
I’d like to make a bet with Nasri. I’d like to wager him ten grand that he’s an old lady faced traitor with so much money that he has absolutely no idea what to do with it next.
Drop me an email, Samir. I’ll take cash or cheque.
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