Arsenal bow out with pride intact

So that’s it for this season, but nobody can accuse us of bowing out tamely in the end.

Yes, our inability to hold a lead cost us, but for the second time in a week we also played some wonderful stuff and deserved more than the nothing we got.

We’ve actually rediscovered some of the swagger we found incapable of locating for some months – great passing, creating chances – without ironing out all the failings (the wasting of those chances and the less than imperious defending).

Wenger was pretty bullish too, bemoaning the relatively small gap between us and Man U.

Between success and failure this season there was very little. We have to accept that we will not win the title and that is hard to swallow. We do not feel that there is a difference technically and collectively between us and Chelsea and Manchester United.

Perhaps not, but he must accept that injuries – and the subsequent lack of squad depth they exposed – played a massive part. We’ve had Eboue, Diaby, van Persie and even Toure on the wing and none of them is a winger.

Yesterday, we carved Utd apart at times. Adebayor had several great chances – I wouldn’t call them sitters but they were at least kneelers – and had we gone 2-0 up moments after our opener things might have been different. So I accept the ‘fine line’ and ‘bad luck’ arguments when you look at yesterday’s effort.

It’s a bit fanciful otherwise though, in truth. Since defeating Blackburn on 11 Feb, our form has been woeful – W2 D7 L4, and that can’t be explained away by luck or by fine lines. Wenger himself admitted he will analyse what went wrong and act accordingly, and I’m sure he will draw some of the same obvious conclusions everyone else is drawing, namely that some areas need serious strengthening and some players need to be moved on.

We have had a blip since March and we have to analyse what is the reason for that, but I feel again today, and on Tuesday at Liverpool, that we played very well and the biggest target is to keep the team together.

Ominous last line? Certainly one of the first things Wenger needs to do is get Flamini on board and sort Hleb’s ice cream habit out. Both of those players have been excellent this season and we’d be handicapping ourselves by letting either of them go.

So, onwards and upwards. We’ve got Reading on Saturday, a team fighting for their lives but one we must beat. Two months without a home win has been no fun at all.

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