I know what you’re thinking. Stop it. Don’t do it to yourself. Stay realistic. You and I both know it won’t happen. It can’t happen.
No, definitely not, regardless of how Moneychester City keep seeming to be willing to let us get the tiniest glimmer by losing or drawing games they should be winning. The hope was always large, but the probability was always small, especially when two billionaire-backed football teams were duking it out for the league. Nope, miracles don’t happen to us Arsenal fans, they simply don’t.
But results like yesterday’s Monday Night Football victory for Palace against the sky blue oil whores, do make you dream a little bit more of something magical, don’t they? Unfortunately for us, Chelski appear to have build such an unassailable lead through their first half of a season dominance, that they look like they are going to do what we couldn’t last season and limp over the line.
Seven points is the difference and they still have a game in hand. That game is against the worst team in the league – Leicester – so we already know that they’ve won it. That brings them to ten and as I’ve been saying to a few people over the last week and a bit, we’ve probably left our winning run charge about a month too late in the season, because wins against Southampton and the Spuds would see us just a point behind the chavs with their one game in hand and a match at The Emirates to come.
Hey, let’s look at the positives though, because whilst the league is 99.9% beyond us, a successful season is most certainly in our grasp and after yet another confidence-boosting win at the weekend and moving up to second in the league, we’re in a position where we could finish as runners up after looking like we’d get nowhere near the top four after about 15 games. To me that represents progress and right now we’re progressing in the right direction.
We’ll see a perfect example of that when Jose and his chavs rock up at The Emirates in three weeks time, because you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be playing for a draw or scabby counter attacking goal against us. If they do, we can be happy that Jose views us as a serious enough threat, which bodes well for us when looking in to next season. I bet about a month ago you had the same thoughts as me when it came to looking at the game at The Emirates against that lot: “please don’t let them win the league on our ground”. At least thoughts appear to be turning to “if we can beat them on our ground, it narrows the gap and then…what if…”. That’s a much better feeling, eh?
Arsène is starting to sound like Arsène Wenger: The Early Years again too. I seem to recall that at the start of his Arsenal career, we’d get soundbites that were juicier the the most succulent of Spanish oranges, the kind of comments that would get you smiling and believing in the manager and his unnerving belief in his team. Post the Liverpool game he offered his usual assessment, but punctuated it with the utterance “There is something special happening here”. I haven’t heard that kind of talk from Le Boss for years. Sure, he’s always talked up his team, his belief, his trust in his players, yada-yada-yada, but those little soundbites from him are a tiny little insight into where his confidence is at.
I reckon he’s looking at next season and thinking he’s found the squad and the blueprint for success. It started with the Invincibles the season before if you can cast your minds that far back. We’d all but lost out on the league but there were still three or four games, in which we had to play and despite the season petering out, I seem to recall that we played very well in those games. Perhaps that was Arsène looking ahead to the next season. What if he’s got that feeling about this group of players this time?
Exciting prospect, isn’t it? It’s the sort of thing that makes you smile. I’ve questioned whether the fire is still alight in the old dog, yet he has recaptured a bit of life within him with this winning streak, so perhaps there’s more to come before he finally moves on from Arsenal?
If you’re like me, then it’s never been about sacking Arsène or allowing a dictator to remain in charge, it’s always been about what will it take for Arsenal to be fighting for the league again. If we are fighting, then Arsène can crack on as long as he wants, but if we’re not then there’ll obviously be questions asked on his capability.
Right now he’s answering them. I hope he continues to do that.
Catch you tomorrow.