In this season of the bizarre and ridiculous, perhaps it was most fitting that on the final day an Arsenal team all had written off as quite poor, took one final step upwards in the league to leapfrog the Spuds by hammering Villa. In return, Newcastle decided to finally show up for their fans, giving the spuds a right rollicking.
I don’t even know what to make of anything. The stats and storks are bizarre. Petr Cech has picked up an award for the most clean sheets. Olivier Giroud has 24 goals attributed to him this season. The same Olivier Giroud who went something like 15 games without scoring this season. The guy who we all lamented his consistent role in the team in place of a world-class finisher, still bagged himself his second hat trick of the season.
The Tiny Totts, who had the best defence in the league before yesterday, went to a Newcastle side who were down and out and looked like they couldn’t buy a goal, had a complete meltdown and lost 5-1. Three of those goals were scored when Newcastle were down to ten men through a Mitrovic red card.
Of course from an Arsenal perspective, this is all deliciously hilarious, because after all of the talk of decline at the club, for all of the posturising from Spud fans, for all of the media hyperbole, ultimately, Arsenal have proven themselves to be better at the league over the Totts yet again. There were people in the last couple of weeks who have made comments about how Tottenham don’t deserve to finish below Arsenal. Absolute tosh. The whole reason the league is the hardest thing to win is because you have to demonstrate a level of consistency to deserve exactly what you get. It’s facts. You can’t argue with them.
What I also like about this particular narrative that has been spun, is that it has only served to heighten the disappointment we have, by not winning the league. The tone of what the players said yesterday, as well as the manager, was that we are not happy with how the season went. That’s what I want to hear! I don’t want to hear about how finishing second for the first time in 11 years was some kind of barometer of improvement. I don’t want to hear people getting all excited. This was a pretty poor season, football-wise, so the laughing and joking of yesterday and today is being tempered by an underlying message that we know the team has to be better next year. But gosh-darn-it, if you can’t find the plight of that lot up the Seven Sisters Road as hilarious, then you’re not doing football right, I’m afraid.
As for the game itself, it was pretty much as expected, after Villa fell behind so early. An early goal quiets any underlying worry from the home support, so when Giroud nodded his first home on five minutes, it felt like the script was well on the way to being written. A drubbing did inevitably follow, but it took its time, which was probably why we didn’t see Rosicky at all, or Arteta until the final few minutes.
Villa – were they not a dreadful team this season – could have caused us problems. Gabriel nearly made a mess of one situation and as Calum Chambers looked on, I do wonder whether he was questioning what he has to do to be given a chance. It seems as though every game Gabriel goes in to he has a mistake in him, so hopefully Arsène is looking at Chambers as a more viable option for next season.
Villa’s couple of chances could have led to a bit of worry, but with 12 minutes to go it felt like the fact they were still in the game had just annoyed the Arsenal players, because we’d had plenty of chances before then. Alexis shot wide, Wilshere hit the side netting when through on goal and we looked like we were toying with the Midlanders at times. Which is why it was a little frustrating we didn’t get that second goal earlier. Had we done so, I’m sure we’d have seen Rosicky, but as it was he had to make do with a guard of honour at the end. It was a nice touch from the club. Whether or not Rosicky finds new employment or retires I don’t know. Arteta has given pretty strong indications that he’s retiring, but Rosicky has not made the same suggestions, so I wonder if he might go back to the Czech Republic to see out his playing career on home soil.
Whatever either decide to do, they have been great servants to the club and at a time in which players leave regularly and often under a cloud, it’s nice to have some positive farewells for the fans to see off.
I’m also pleased that yesterday panned out as it did. There were definite concerns that the atmosphere could get toxic and given what happened with the Spuds, if we’d have failed to beat the bottom club, I suspect there wouldn’t have been so much temporary goodwill generated on the last game of the season.
Still, there was, we can all have a laugh and at least it means we go into the summer with a bit more positivity. There still needs to be remedial action taken on the squad, but as someone pointed out on Twitter yesterday, perhaps finishing second will make recruitment of players easier: if they think they’re joining a club on the up, then we’re more likely to attract the big names. Aren’t we?
Anyway, that’s that for me for one day. I think I’ll do some kind of season wash up tomorrow and over the next few days, but would love to get your comments too, so leave them below.