Tuesday morning and the world is calm, serene, because Arsenal won and the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands whilst looking at the possible outcomes for these final games remains unclear. It feels like there might be one, maybe even two, more twists and swings in momentum before this season is out. And I both love it and hate it. There’s a great line in a James Bond film with Pierce Brosnan in which one of the villains says “what’s the point in living if you cannot feel alive” and that’s kind of where we are at right now, right?
we’ve just done two seasons in which the Premier League has been rendered an effective ‘mehfest’ after finishing twice and never really having much of interest to play for. And whilst this Arsenal team could of course still slip up, whilst we could of course still see us lose out to the Scum from the Lane, at least we’re in it in the closing stages. At least we have hope of a decent prize at the end of the season.
And even if we don’t get that prize – which I think will be tough to achieve given our fixtures still – the journey has at least had some pretty good highs in it. This time of the season feels like it always becomes a bit binary. It feels like games against West Ham, Leeds, Newcastle, all mean more than the great wins against Chelski away, United at home or the Scum at home. There was the swashbuckling away win at Watford, the impressive smashing of Leeds at Elland Road, as well as the impressive display against what was expected to be a Leicester side competing towards the top of the league. Yet all of those matches suffer from some kind of – what’s the opposite of recency bias? Legacy bias? – and as a result if we fall down at the last hurdle it will all feel for nothing.
But it won’t be for nothing and we should absolutely be trying to see the positives of this season, regardless of how it ends in terms of our league position. When the dust has settled we should all feel happy enough to admit that this season has been better than the last two before it, even if one of those did have an FA Cup win at the end. The overall journey this season may not end with a big prize of Champions League football (or it might), but I feel like we’ve had more individual, smaller highs, overall compared to the previous couple.
Which should be cause for optimism. A young team, a hungry team, a team making mistakes but also delivering what looks like a solid base from which to grow, is developing in front of our very eyes. And we’ve had to do it whilst losing our captain, having a number of injuries throughout the season, losing our key cogs at an important time at the end of the season, yet our young charges are still fighting for honours. Whatever happens in the next month, when I get to mid June and the dust has settled, i’ll be satisfied that I can at least look forward to next season with some hope. After all, the club’s situation in terms of what they need to do with getting the players in certain positions is now obvious. We can all debate where squad depth is needed, but I don’t think any of us are under the impression that the club aren’t going to try to properly solve the attacking situation next season.
And when that happens…boy…it’ll be more cause for optimism. We all know that Eddie has done well in his last few games, but we all also know that when we get that striker we all crave…boyo…it’ll be refreshing. Lacazette has been a paltry option up top for Arsenal for months. Eddie hasn’t had a look in. It’s like Pepe doesn’t exist any more and yet we find ourselves in fourth as we stand today, with most of the season being without a proper centre forward. Imagine the potential of this team if Arteta brings in one – probably two – players that are upgrades on our options. Just imagine that we could have added even an extra 15 goals to this team up front this season. We’d have 68 goals scored, which would be one more than Chelski in third place and I bet we’d have at least three more wins as a result. That’s take us to 69 points right now and we wouldn’t even be talking about a top four run; the conversation would be about how we can get close to Liverpool and Man City, who just blow every other team out of the water.
To get there we’d need the extra 15 goals, then probably another 10 from other areas of the pitch. If you’re looking at Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli to add that then I certainly think it’s doable. Saka has 12, Smith Rowe has 11 and Martinelli has five. I think we could get another five out of Gabby alone and with a whole season as the main men as they’ve had this season, those youngsters will already be looking to improve. So all of this is preamble to me telling you, dear friend, that I feel like we already have the building blocks in place for next season. We just need to get those final puzzle pieces like a proper striker(s) for a whole season that will step up with goals.
We’re in a good place and it is funny houw results completely flip your mindset. Looking at the table and the last two big wins has put a very rosy spectacle on my outlook. But after the previous three games before that I certainly had worries. Although what I would say on that is that my worries were not with the young players or the set up and the framework that has been set up for this team. It was more for those missing pieces like the strikers, or the full back problems we have had. So I’d like to think that even if we’d have stared down the barrel of a mini collapse at the end of this season, that after the dust had settled I could still see some of the positives in this team.
Ask me again in a month and I might tell you something different. Ask me in two months and you’ll probably get a more accurate and introspective perspective.
Right, I’ll call it a day there. Have yourself a good one and I will catch you all tomorrow.
Good article and you are absolutely right. If at the start of the season we had been offered a chance of top four with 5 games to go we would have definitely have taken it. If we make top four we will have over achieved this year, the first time for several seasons. Even if we don’t the direction is there, we are moving forward, which is more than can be said for Man U or Chelsea. Next season has real promise.