Finally. A win. Three delicious points. For what it feels like an age, we’ve won a game of football. It was hard work, as expected, but it gave us a much needed break from the continued media bashing. We don’t need to discuss the performance, we don’t need to discuss the refereeing decisions, we don’t need to discuss anything other than the fact we took home three points.
The main thing that I want to discuss today is the post-match reaction of the players and the media. The players looked as though we’d just beaten a top team away from home, a City, a United, a Chelsea, a Sp*rs. It looked a bit excessive out of context, however it was indicative of the pressure that was on their shoulders. People talked about the need for a performance and the need for some momentum going into the cup semi-final and the run in, this was exactly what was required. One more goal for us and we would have thought it was a coast and may not have seen such an enthused post-match reaction and another goal for them and it would have been dark. The 2-1 victory was almost perfect as it has galvanised us. Everyone looked pumped and as if they want it now. A part of me does wonder whether the players now know what is happening with the manager next season. They all looked like they had a purpose. A part of it is to do with the fact that they are all playing for a place in the cup semi-final, which in itself is encouraging. There have been times that hiding as players has been levelled at the main men of The Arsenal so it was refreshing to see that there wasn’t much of that going on vs Boro. When they equalised I feared the worst, as did most fans I imagine, however we responded fairly well. They had chances as did we. Thankfully we took ours and therein ensued our post-match exuberance. A massive shout out to The Ox, who was by far our best player and fantastic on the night. It was interesting to view Alexis Sanchez’s reaction. He was high-fiving, hugging every player and ran to give his shirt to an adoring young fan, which was nice to see. The players looked knackered, happy and most of all relieved.
The post-match analysis was where my annoyance turned to this week. We’re used to the commentators willing the underdogs on, that much is clear when you’re a big club so there’s no grievance there. The real annoyance was with David Jones suggesting/insinuating that the reactions could have been staged. I think his exact words were “Do you think it was genuine?” when discussing the reaction of the players, to which Carragher waved away any suggestion of a pre-planned reaction. I mean imagine how this would have gone down at the end of an Easter Sunday training session?
“OK lads, if we win tomorrow make sure we prance. Prance like reindeer all over the pitch, hug and high five each other all the while smiling profusely. Be sure to react as though we’ve won against Chelsea or something. Also remember to thank all of the fans. Oh and Alexis, especially you as you’re normally a grumpy bastard after games. Give them your shirt or something. We’ll plant a young fan there, give it to him. Shake his hand. Ruffle his hair. Got it? Excellent”
To even suggest that the above could have been the scenario that we saw unfold is the most ridiculous punditry you could ever imagine, and this from a man who simply has to MC the main event of analysis from the likes of Neville and Carragher. True stupidity. You can question the commitment of players and their reactions when the chips are down, but when things go well you question whether the feeling of joy is legitimate? I didn’t see those sorts of questions when the team lost a game, however there is a clear reason as to why it occurred. It’s become clear to everyone involved with Premier League football that when it comes to Arsenal, Click Bait is king. Not only does the fact that AFTV has now given a platform for morons to vent their fury, it’s given all other media outlets an excuse to beat Arsenal with a stick at every given opportunity. They know that the ‘controversial’ opinion or standpoint will carry its way over to the people who don’t really care about deep and thought out analysis but also be discussed and given air time in more ways than one. Sky Sports have been hit hard of late with BT Sport taking the FA Cup and Champions League rights away, therefore the Premier League is the only real way to stay relevant. If they can stretch their presence to even be talked about in the slightest across other forms of media, in this case YouTube, then why not? It doesn’t make them money, it doesn’t enhance our viewing on Sky, however what it does do is keep the brand top of mind. It keeps them relevant. Their fear of one day imploding is not an imminent threat, but one that can be seen at a fair distance. Hence the increased levels of ‘controversy’ we see on the channel a la Henry, Carragher, Neville etc etc.
Thankfully we got the points and look far more together as a squad than we did last week, so going into the Cup Semi-Final with City we have some breathing space and a little cheer. We could yet manage a top 4 finish with a Cup to parade around come the end of the season; it’s not all doom and gloom just yet. Yet being the operative word here. Oh and Ronaldo is a goal machine, in case you didn’t know (including goals from offside positions!). Real Madrid now into the Semi-Finals for the 7th time in a row. Incredible record against a formidable opponent. Just why didn’t Bayern shut up shop after going a man down to save their dignity? I cannot understand it. I kid, I kid…
Have a great week folks.
Que sera sera…!
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.