May 14, 2012
Arsenal added the motto ‘Forward’ to the bottom of the club’s crest for the 125th anniversary season, and for a large slice of the season, that was looking like an embarrassing move. It seemed like we were a club in decline, and one that was definitely moving backwards. No-one could have envisaged that we’d end the season with a higher points total than the previous campaign, and finish a place higher.
It might only be a small step, but we have gone forward as a team and as a club this season. Whilst we should be rightly pleased at how we recovered from the dreadful start, this achievement shouldn’t be looked at as the be all and end all for this group of players. It needs to be the start of something.
We’ve stumbled over the line, but finishing third not only puts us back in the Champions League group stage, it gives us more clout when negotiating new contracts for certain members of the current squad, and helps us in the transfer market to attract players. One of the reasons for the ill-advised trolley dash at the end of last summer was that we weren’t able to guarantee potential signings that they’d be playing in Europe’s top competition because of the Champions League qualifier with Udinese. We won’t have that problem this summer.
May 7, 2012
At 2.45pm on Saturday, it looked like we were going to be in desperate need of Tottenham suffering another lasagne induced bout of food poisoning, as in 2006. However at 4pm on Sunday, things weren’t looking quite as desperate. However given Arsenal’s remarkable ability to throw away our good work this season, we should probably start planning in the kitchen just to make sure we secure third place.
If Arsenal fail to finish in the top three, it will be our own fault. We’ve had the chances to secure that position, but have so far contrived to blow every one of them. To have one final chance is unexpected, but it must be utilised. On the basis of the season we do deserve to be where we are, you’re not third by accident after 37 games, because whilst we’ve had our failings, so have our closest challengers. The team should learn from the numerous mistakes we made against Norwich and give everything to take advantage of our final chance, as failure to do so could still result in Europa League football.
Our recent run is concerning ahead of the final game because we haven’t won for four matches now. After our win against Wolves, we’ve lost to Wigan, and drawn with Chelsea, Stoke and Norwich. A win in any of those games, and we’d virtually be safe in third place. It’s amazing that our fate is still in our hands, but the form ahead of a must-win match doesn’t fill me with confidence. At least in the draws with Chelsea and Stoke, we generally defended well. That wasn’t the case against Norwich.