Apologies for the lack of writing this week. I was off on a mini adventure to see Mr Mark Lanegan in Dublin. Awesome gig. Today I want to write a little bit about Arsenal. We’ve had three solid victories since that game in the cup against Sunderland. Spurs was immense, Liverpool was nearly as immense. Mainly due to the fact we had to fight against 12 men. Halsey put in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a referee. And of course, racist rat boy who suffered that awful friction burn in the first half when sock fibres touched, did not see his cheating result in a goal. AC Milan proved to be one goal too many to catch up with and being honest, with the state our squad is in, I’m kind of happy we didn’t get extra time or win it. I think this season, with what it has brought, would be better with Champions League qualification sorted than an extended run in the Champions League, thus exhausting an already threadbare squad. We still hammered AC Milan. The team leading Serie A. We restored pride and kept our momentum going. That’s what I hoped for pre-game. Let’s hope that the start of the squad re-building for next season continues. What better way of convincing Van Persie to stay than showing our intent now to strengthen. Podolski is someone I rate highly and while Cologne wouldn’t be a team I’d watch regularly in the Budesliga, he is someone that I’ve always enjoyed watching when he plays, both for club and country. At Munich he wasn’t given too many opportunities to impress and injury did him no big favours either. But for a team in the bottom half of the Bundesliga, 16 goals in 22 games is a fantastic return.
Standing as we do, right here, right now, I’d like to compare us quickly to Liverpool. They seem to be a good choice to talk about where we are and where we could be. The lines between success and failure, financial security and financial ruin are far too fine these days. Liverpool got very lucky that John Henry rescued them from Hicks and Gillette. Henry was thanked (screwed) when Dalglish told him to sign Andy Carroll for £35 million and a racist for £22 million too many pounds. This partnership has helped Liverpool score 30 goals this season. In total. In fact I’m not sure Andy Carroll has helped at all? I know Arsenal have their issues with only the one striker in scoring form…. Scratch that… in ANY form but at least our £35 million …..wait, where did I put that decimal point? Ah! There it is: £3.5 million was money wisely spent. But ultimately, come the end of May, would you prefer to reflect and bask in the shiny glory of a League Cup and a 7th place finish (just my own opinion as to where I think Liverpool will finish), or would you prefer to finish in the top 4 and know you have some amazing nights of European football ahead of you next season? I prefer looking to the future myself. Trophies are won, you then move on. To me currently, with the financial playing fields so uneven, silverware means squat.
Hear me out. We’ve been without silverware for a few years now. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts losing finals, but ultimately trophies are nice shiny things to lift over your head and yell at. They also look nice in cabinets (I’ve been to the Bernabeu and their trophy room is insane) but in today’s world, they ultimately mean little. Positioning in the league is my ultimate trophy. I look at Birmingham: relegated after winning the League Cup last year. Charlton, Leeds, Portsmouth and others who falsely attempted to achieve greatness spending more than they could afford. Where are they now? I look at Man City and Chelsea. If their owners got bored in the morning – what would happen them? Then I look at my club. It has history. It has a present. And it has a future. While Arsenal exist and work in a profession where money truly is everything, my trophy is seeing Wenger work miracles every season. No one has given us a chance of staying in the top 4 at the start of the last couple of seasons. Yet here we are. Battling to get 3rd from ‘them’.
We have our faults, don’t get me wrong. I think last summer was a disaster the way transfers were handled. I’d have loved to give everyone involved in our transfer dealings last summer a hoof up the arse on September 1st. Yes this season has been a rollercoaster, but when you follow a team and truly support them, you have accepted in the terms and conditions that you agree to go on any rides the team may take you on! Those are the ups and the downs my friends! Sport is emotive! I love it for the highs as well as the lows. But in a financially doped world, which is what football currently lives in, what do we want? We can demand Arsenal spend £57 million on two forwards who win us a League Cup. We can demand Arsenal pay so much in wages that come seasons end, they can’t afford the wages (Barcelona last summer) or we can become like Chelsea and have ‘people’ like Terry and Lampard in the squad. No thanks to all of the above. During the times of struggle, were there any dissenting voices coming from our club? No. They stuck together, fought together, lost together and won together. No undermining of the manager. That’s what I want from my club. Come seasons end – evaluation time. But recognise just how tough it is to do what Wenger does every year and get us our top 4 finish. Up the Gunners!