A quick one on Man City before I go in to the Arsenal spiel as usual today; their victory confirming the first ever domestic treble was certainly warranted. They are the best team this season by a mile and you have to respect the squad of players and Pep Guardiola for achieving the feat.
However, I cannot get over the fact that the club has essentially been assembled through a number of years of ridiculously unsustainable financial injections. It’s colloquially called ‘financial doping’ and although clubs have always spent big money to win competitions in football, this is on a scale that is not realistic, which is why UEFA are looking to impose sanctions.
So I’ll repeat what I said on Twitter yesterday: this is most definitely the greatest financially doped football team the English game has ever seen.
Now, back to Arsenal and I don’t want to start people getting worried, but last night I had a dream that felt so real I’m now really worried about the Europa League final.
You know when you have those dreams that feel so real that you wake up and are genuinely shocked that it isn’t in fact real at all? That’s happened to me only a couple of times before and the last time it was when I dreamt my parents bought me WWF Wrestlemania on the Game Boy. It was so deeply disappointing that when I woke up it took me the whole weekend to get over it.
Last night a similar dream happened. We went two up against Chelski in Baku, conceded two silly goals to take it to extra time, then lost on penalties. It was depressing to be so close to a cup final win and then sh*t the bed so dramatically at the end of the match. The positive is that I woke up to realise it hasn’t happened yet. The negative is that it felt so very real that I feel absolutely convinced about the outcome.
I hope Unai has a master plan in place to make sure it doesn’t happen. Perhaps he does. He’s certainly got enough time to prepare for this game and ‘Mr USB’ has at least been able to prepare for these bigger games better than Arsène used to. It’s weird because Chelski used to always be the team that was organised, with managers studying the opposition and neutralising us, whilst we were the team that were unpredictable; you could get a scintillating Arsenal side who would roll over a big team (usually at home) with flair and attacking prowess under Arsène. Although of course the down side is you could equally get an Arsenal team who completely imploded against the big teams (usually away from home).
Now Unai appears to have turned that around and we do appear more organised in some of the big games. The Liverpool away result aside nobody has really blown us away. Yet over in a West London the natives are restless because ‘Sarriball’ has them consistently inconsistent this season, with a few ‘X Factor’ players like Eden Hazard who can turn a game on his own. Perhaps that should give me more cause for belief that we will approach the game with a clear idea of how to beat Chelski but certainly what we need is a proper plan in place.
Just before I go for today, I’d recommend having a look at all of the Abou Diaby stuff the club has put on the website, because it really gives great insight in to some of the trials and tribulations of an injury prone footballer, not able to do the job he loves on such a regular basis.
Towards the end of his time at the club Diaby became the symbol of the problems with the Wenger reign; Arsène was so fiercely loyal to some players and probably gave Diaby one contract too many. It was both a compassionate and irrational decision and symbolised the problems at Arsenal that ultimately led to the toxic situation we had last season. But I remember what Diaby was capable of and if his body would have held together he would have been a fantastic player for us. His ability to glide across the pitch, the composure on the ball and the way he could suddenly burst past players was really great to watch when he was fit, but that never really came to fruition and as a result we were robbed of seeing a truly gifted footballer.
But that is life, that happens a lot and in the last 15 years it feels like it’s happened to Arsenal with plenty of players, so we’ve gotten used to moving on quickly. It’s just a shame we couldn’t see what could have been a very good career.
Catch you all tomorrow.