Writing this weeks blog feels tiring, as we limp towards the finish line for our season. Being 3 points clear of City with Villa at home to play you would *think* that we will have an automatic Champions League place sorted. A loss for Sp*rs and a win for us would even get us into 2nd. 2nd place! After playing as poorly as we have for the best part of 4 months would be some feat but would once again highlight that, while the league that we are in is by far and away the most entertaining objectively speaking, this league lacks real quality. But as I’ve been saying for a few weeks now, this season is almost over and can well and truly get in the bin. The only thing that we can take away from it, if anything at all, is a Community Shield win. But that was so long ago it almost feels like last season.
The performance v City themselves was abject at best. We showed flashes of quality, which were the moments that led to our goals but we never really looked like we had a grip of the game. They were far better than us and if we’re being honest, they probably deserved to win the game. It’s a decent point for us and means a draw against Villa next week keeps us 3rd. A win coupled with a Sp*rs loss takes us 2nd, which would be a nice bonus but we have much bigger problems to address this summer than having to worry about finishing above or below Sp*rs. The positives of the performance were Jack Wilshere and Oliver Giroud. They both played well and looked sharp again so they are great takeaways from the game. The not so positive was Danny Welbeck. I really hope that his knee injury isn’t too serious, he’s been through so many injury problems it would be gutting for him to miss the Euros.
This season has really been an anomaly in that every single so called “big club” has massively under performed. Now it’s not only that, as the teams that are traditionally below the usual top 6 have become markedly better but that’s been coupled with a stagnation at the top. It’s for this reason that Leicester City are Champions (I still can’t quite believe this). They are the only side to have shown some mettle and have almost said to the rest of the league “if you want to play like that every week, we’ll have you”. They haven’t been remotely spectacular. They haven’t been exciting. They’ve been a sit back and counter team, and while there is an element of beauty in their counter attacking goals, it’s just small flashes. But no one can begrudge them of this. Their squad was assembled for around £55m (6 times less than Chelsea’s title winning squad last season) and they know that player for player ability wise that they simply don’t have the best squad. It’s a team greater than the sum of its parts and that is down to a very humble and down to earth manager who has realised that work rate alone is good enough to win this league.
It’s quite fitting that Claudio Ranieri will get to walk out at Stamford Bridge with a guard of honour as a Premier League champion, where Roman Abramovich said that he would never be able to win the league title. It’s some excellent poetic justice, and it’s poetic justice that gives me, an Arsenal fan, some hope. Hope that for all the abuse we as a club have heard, that Wenger as a boss has received and for all the heartache that we’ve witnessed. So near, yet so far has been the way in recent times but poetic justice is what gives me hope. I think we all realise that some change is needed in either the board, management or both, but what’s clear is that Wenger will be here next season. I for one he is able to retire in the same way as Sir Alex. With a title. Be it the Premier League or the Champions League it would really be a good way for him to go out. Alas it doesn’t quite work as ‘nicely’ as that – just ask Steven Gerrard. He lost his last game 6-1 and didn’t win a league title with Liverpool, which some would say he deserved to win. I for one am in that book, he’s a player who gave everything to his club and didn’t quite get his just rewards trophy wise. And that is a danger for Arsene Wenger. I really do feel that if we go next season without winning a trophy his time at Arsenal will always be remembered with a tinge of resentment by a lot of the fan base. What would be nice is a big trophy win to see him off but the only way that will really happen is by taking some transfer window risks. There will be plenty of time to discuss this in the summer so I’ll leave the in-out-in-out-shake-it-all-about discussion to then. Until then 3rd place, it seems, is where our season will drift into the distance.
With regards to Leicester, there was no better way for them to celebrate really. They had Andrea Bocelli belt out Nessun Dorma in the centre circle and it was a spine tinglingly good performance. My favourite part was when Ranieri was trying to silence the fans singing his name like a dad trying to silence his children so that he could listen to his music. It was quite brilliant. What was also brilliant was their performance on the day. Missing a key man you thought that Everton may have had a chance to get at them. No chance. I know they themselves are in somewhat of a crisis but Leicester cast them aside in a very un-Leicester way. They dominated from beginning to end. A good way to begin the celebrations.
Don’t worry folks – the season and the nightmares of it are nearly over. One more win and we can focus on the Euros and hope for some poetic justice next season.
Have a great week.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.