I always begin my match day blog with a quick glance at the official fixture list. Living in fear of writing an irreverent and irrelevant few hundred words in anticipation of a visit from Brighton and Hove Albion on the day the team are actually travelling to Scunthorpe is a heavy cross to bear. I was shocked when opening the appropriate page to count only three games remaining on the roster. The end seems to be rushing toward us with undue haste.
I have to be honest with you while I shall attempt to enjoy those last three fixtures just as much as the first one it will be nice not to think about football at all for a few short months. The negativity surrounding the club which is, as we all know, the result of many years of deliberate campaigning by those lovely people in the press and on the television, makes supporting Arsenal like swimming through sewage.
Even this positive blog is more often than not taken up with defending our position against the poor saps who have been engulfed into the swirling waters of despair and the numbers of genuinely positive posters here has dwindled to a mere handful. In short the fun has been sucked from what is supposed to be an enjoyable pastime. Bravo. Congratulations to all those who have made this possible.
It’s a shame because not only has this been a truly exciting and fascinating season with some famous victories and shock defeats and more silverware for the trophy cabinet but the end is still uncertain. There is still much to play for and something of a cup final in Manchester next Sunday as, in all probability, we duke it out with City for a third place finish. What Liverpool, Chelsea or Man United fans wouldn’t give to swap places with us. A shame that we aren’t in it for higher stakes but you can only play the cards in your hand.
To keep the pressure on City we need to overcome a Norwich side engaged in their own desperate end of term scrap. They’re level with Sunderland and a mere point above Newcastle and it seems likely that only one of these three will survive. So another highly motivated, physical side to overcome at the Emirates. Let’s us hope all the malcontents stay away from the stadium once again. The improvement in the atmosphere will make life so much easier for our players to get the job done.
I don’t anticipate it being an easy task today. Obdurate defending and counter attacking football will be the order of the day. Expect much talk along the lines of “We’re not moving the ball fast enough” or “The final pass is letting us down” or “We’re not working the keeper enough” as our silky approach play comes up against the massed ranks of a packed ten man defence. Actually my personal favourite is “Why can’t we beat sides who park the bus?” This is of course a huge steaming pile of bollocks. A silly statements and yet so often repeated. We usually do beat those sides because it is how most teams play us and we win most of our matches. Apologies to Shotta for straying into his statistical territory.
Norwich’s away form has not been impressive lately. They’ve won once and lost the rest of their last six games. We have only lost once at home in our previous half dozen matches and so if form is anything to go by at all then we have no reason to be fearful going into our teatime kick off. Form is of course an ever shifting, malleable intangible beast which can suddenly change up on you. This season more than ever those in the habit of predicting results have too often been stymied. Of more importance is what is at stake. Both sides have much to play for. I was going to say much to prove but it won’t matter to the howling degenerates in the press nor their devoted subjects what Arsenal do today as their narrative is set in stone.
It’s a shame. I used to love football. After the week I’ve had today’s match would have been something diverting. Something to which I could have looked forward with excitement and anticipation of a couple of hours of top class entertainment. Instead I’m here with my tin hat on in the bunker with the last handful of other loyalists fingering their suicide pills and listening as the artillery shells fall ever closer.
So let’s gather together and sing a song or two. The barbarians are at the gate and have laid waste much of our beautiful land. Enjoy watching a team consistently battling near the top of the table for however long we have left. When Arsène’s glorious reign is finally over the fall will be steep and painful. Prepare yourselves for battles for ninth place with West Brom and Liverpool, Stoke and Everton, for as it is written, the bleak shall surely inherit the earth.