Morning folks. Y’alreet?
Feeling excited? Nervous? Can’t wait until Thursday?
I am all of the above. I would also add ‘petrified’ because in the main I worry that by this weekend the season – and Arsène’s reign – will slowly chug to a very undramatic ending with games at home to Burnley, away to Leicester and then away to Huddersfield. Having watched ‘The Feud’ on Channel 5 in the UK and seen the way Fergie bowed out, then see us dominate Madrid last Thursday, I actually started to believe it was possible for a fleeting moment. But that was extinguished with Griezmann’s goal and since then I’ve been stewing on the fairytale ending that we probably won’t be getting, given what we’re up against in two days time.
But do you know what? This is better than if we’d have been knocked out already and the season was already just plodding along to it’s inevitable conclusion. I am reminded of a quote from The World is Not Enough when old Brosnan is reminded that “what’s the point in living if you cannot feel alive?”. I know it’s not exactly the greatest movie of all time to be referencing, but at least that’s how I feel, because at least we’re getting the excitement, nerves, probably the likelihood of pain of defeat, but to have that right up until just over a week before the season ends is at least something.
I went running this morning and halfway through my run my wireless headphones ran out of battery. Which meant I no longer had Arsenal-related podcasts to listen to, but was just alone with my head, which meant that I started to actually think about the last few years and the trophies I’ve seen us win. And boy, I wouldn’t change that feeling for the world. There are plenty of fans – like Tottenham fans for example – who don’t get the same level of excitement and jubilation that we’ve had even in the declining years. But we’ve had them. In the current cold light of day when the feeling of our slow and steady domestic decline it’s all still a little too raw for me to praise Arsène. But I feel like in 12 to 18 months time I’ll look back on even these latter stages of his time at the club with fondness.
That’s mainly because of those cup final memories. In three years time I’m not going to give a sh*t about where we finished in the league in 2014, 2015, or 2017, because I’ll have that one big day out to remember and as an Arsenal fan who’s parents aren’t really into football, I never really properly got to experience all of the cup wins of the 90s and early years under Wenger. I had to watch from afar on TV and so when I was able to get tickets via my own means and get there to experience that excited build up, well, that was something special.
If Football is about memories as much as living in the ‘now’, I can at least be grateful that the manager has brought us that. He’s kept us at least excited for something and he and the players have delivered that, even if it’s only for a few more days.
Im not saying that I am not looking forward to the new regime, I am not saying I’m having second thoughts about whether he should stay – it’s clear that wouldn’t work – but I am saying that just for those very small pockets of time in the last four years – semi final and final – we’ve by and large had fantastic memories that will last in many of our minds for as long as we’re on this Earth.
Hey, maybe miracles can happen, maybe we can get to the final. And maybe we’ll even have Santi on the bench. He’s said he’d like to play some part and I think the nostalgic part of all of us would love that, but I think him getting any game time this season is highly unlikely, given he’s had a year and a half out of the game. It will be a sad end to his Arsenal career but he’ll get the send off he deserves on Sunday and I hope he plays again in some capacity for somebody next season.
I remember when I first saw him in an Arsenal shirt. We smashed Southampton 6-1 and a ball was punted high into the sky at The Emirates. As it landed by his feet he touched it once to stop it stone dead, then spun on his axis to completely wrong-foot a Southampton midfielder, then wheeled away and released the ball to put us on the attack. That was the moment – instantly – I knew we had somebody special. He’s proven that over the years that’s for sure.
But Arsenal, like Santi, like Arsène, need to move on and if sentiment is in the way of bringing through the next generation, then we have to be pragmatic. We have some exciting young players coming through and they need to be given there chance. So I suspect Santi will be given a warm reception on Sunday and then I suspect that will be the last time we will see him in and Arsenal shirt on the Emirates turf. *Sad Face*.
Anyway, let’s not end on a sad note, instead preferring to appreciate that the season is still alive – just – and we are two days away from a defining point in it.
Catch you all tomorrow.