Good Morning Positivistas,
What a finale to the season ! Ninety minutes that will be firmly fixed in my memory as one of the best final days I have witnessed, even weighed against seasons in which trophies have been won and records set. And memorable for all the right reasons.
Of the game itself we dominated the opening phase and the way we tore into Villa a substantial score looked possible, 6-7-8 ? Having taken the inevitable lead however the second goal did not come !! While the visitors looked horribly inept there was a niggling fear that with no second goal we risked another ‘Crystal Palace’ style stumble, the anxiety heightened as word from St James’ Park swept across the ground. The Lilywhite collapse came as a surprise for me and most I think, but thereafter each new Tottingham calamity met with hilarity and a knowing shrug “it’s Spurs”. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The scale of their breakdown was stunning and on this occasion there were no third party/lasagne themed excuses to hide behind.
It took us to the 78th minute for Olivier to hammer the 2nd goal on the back of Mesut’s 19th assist. That was a long time and evidence that despite the poverty of the opposition we found it difficult to quite get our game ‘right’. Santi was brilliant yesterday, and, though his work was much more in the background, so was Le Coq who worked hard all afternoon in the engine room. Though in possession of the ball 75% of the time and in control of the game just about 100% we did not really threaten in the Villa box. If I was looking for a reason it seemed to me that with Santi, Ozil, Jack, and Sanchez we had too many players of the same ball-playing at the feet style, all the same size, and trying to do the same job. When we brought on Elneny our shape changed and we became faster in moving the ball, and more direct.
Once the second came the third goal followed immediately for Olivier. Having sat uncomfortably through a few games when nothing has gone right for the Frenchman fortune shone her benevolent gaze on him yesterday, every damn thing went right. All good finishes as well.
Then came forth Mikel to loud applause. Even though our club captain was on the pitch for just five minutes he put his all into that cameo, and was duly rewarded with our final goal. ( Own goal my arse).
Mr Clattenburg duly brought out league season to a very satisfactory end, there followed very warm and sincere tributes to Mikel and Tomas. I do not know how much, if any was shown on the TV, but the Spaniard was really sobbing both on the pitch and later on with his wife and children in the tunnel. I suspect the tears were the realisation that part of his life, the life he has wanted and known from about the age of 8, to be a “footballer”, was over. Our friends at the Telegraph provide this morning’s final picture of the Mikel enjoying the final goal in an Arsenal shirt below.
Finally I am delighted to say that the ‘lap of appreciation’ was performed in front of an 80% full stadium with all of the players, coaches and manager, and their children, walking the perimeter with Gunnersaurus bringing up the rear. All had on Rosicky shirts, other than Theo (Sigh). The glow of good humour from crowd to team and manager you could feel. That is how a football ground ‘should’ be.
Is it only me but was the absence of any reference to/recognition of the Flamster in yesterday’s leaving ceremonies significant ? Might the Frenchman be in for one more campaign ? If not it was a bit of a shame he did not get a good cheer.
On the sunshine bus we all know that football retains the means to confound and delight us, to lift us to a joyous perch, and to drag us toward and then back from the brink of doom. Yesterday the season passed into history in a glow of enjoyment, of goals and of victory.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to write for so knowledgeable and enthusiastic an audience. Enjoy your week, enjoy the close season. We shall return.