Sorry but I’m struggling to get my head into football mode for you this morning. Don’t panic, I haven’t gone all Jose Mourinho, I don’t regard the final fixtures of a season as any less interesting or important than the first, it isn’t that. I’m just buried in another project and it’s demanding all of my time. I’ve missed watching the last three matches live and may well be working while watching this one so it’s becoming something of a habit as we hurtle towards a football free summer.
Luckily enough there is a website which allows me to watch the games without having to wait for the club to put them up and of course without knowing the result – something the official site seems to delight in sharing. I’ve had my suspicions after each game that we had won because one of the young men I support from time to time is an Arsenal fan and he can’t resist texting me a simple ‘Up the Arsenal’ message at around the time of the final whistle, something I suspect wouldn’t happen had we lost.
I shall at least be working from home this evening and so ought to be able to keep one eye on the action. It’ll be interesting to see if the game follows the pattern of our recent outings. Seems to me Arsène has bemused opponents by being less direct, less gung ho from the kick off playing a little deeper and gradually winding up the tempo as the game goes on. Teams who set out to park the bus must be confused to find their opponents content to slide the ball around among themselves as they peer from over the barricades wondering if the attack will ever come and if so, how it will transpire.
When your entire strategy is based upon tempting nine red and white shirts forward then instigating a long ball counter attack designed to drag the remaining central defender wide thus leaving a hole for others to romp through, it must be at least a little disconcerting to suddenly find three centre backs facing you and two wing backs pelting home to help them. It certainly seems to be working.
It needs to work twice more and we need City and Liverpool to screw up for our league ambitions to be realised. We all know the history, it’s happened before and who’s to say it won’t happen again? Of course it’s unlikely but if we don’t allow our dreams to draw us forward then our fears will surely drag us down. I would love another nail biting last day like last year, it rounds off a season rather wonderfully to confound one’s critics at the death. It would certainly provide the perfect aperitif to the cup final feast.
Standing in our way this evening is a Sunderland side who have had the kind of season they’d want to forget. It is in fact the kind of season that the small minority of so called fans, that gibbering, Wenger hating flock of self aggrandising, self important, attention seeking, septic sores on the beautiful face of our great club, seem to think Arsenal has endured. Having said that even if we were rooted at the foot of the table they’d still be over the top in their criticisms, so far from reality have they strayed.
Poor Sunderland are actually in the mire for real and not just in the imaginations of a few escaped lunatics. They cannot save themselves, their future is in the Championship but then so was that of Newcastle at a similar stage of last season and look how they performed against a certain Middlesex team who had it all still to play for. It’s a curious time of any campaign and weird results can and do happen. I just hope they don’t happen to us.
My real concern is the fitness of the players after a gruelling run of matches. There must be tiredness in some of the legs and with the cup final looming it would be such a shame for any of them to miss out. It would be especially galling for Alexis as he has just returned to form. Much like Aaron Ramsey the Chilean has that tenacious quality to keep trying to play his best possible football even when out of form and out of touch. Neither player likes to look for the simple option and both keep their heads up and keep plugging away until their natural game returns. Both have shown signs of getting back to their energetic, creative best and I will be keeping everything crossed that we see them at Wembley.
Sorry there I go again getting ahead of myself. It is difficult to maintain focus with an FA Cup final just around the corner. Even though Arsène keeps on getting us to Wembley I never tire of the occasion. However, Champion’s League qualification is, in some ways, as big a target and one we cannot give up until all hope is gone. Three points tonight keeps the flame alight and a favour from that most unlikely source – a certain Mr Pulis – will make the last day anything but boring.
If you’re at the match have a wonderful evening, if like me you’re watching online I hope the God of the dodgy internet stream smiles upon you and keeps you virus free. For the penultimate time in this league campaign I shall bid you farewell. Up the Arsenal!