Arsenal sign off with a Double Dutch

Lap of thanks
What did Fabregas do with his shorts?

Arsenal 4-1 Stoke City
When the weather was as glorious as it was yesterday, I do wonder why the football season can’t be rescheduled to start in March and end in November. Probably because players in Spain and Italy would melt, but there you go. Anyway, it was certainly a delicious contrast from 10th January against Bolton, when the thermometer stubbornly refused to budge above -2c all game and we resorted to pogo-ing to keep warm.

Bathed in sunlight and warmth, and with no pressure, Arsenal duly romped to a 4-1 win, all goals coming in the first half. Two of those came from Robin van Persie, taking his season’s tally to 20, his best ever haul. He’s been fit most of the season, which makes a massive difference, but he’s also a fabulous footballer at the right age and with plenty of experience, so Wenger is right to concentrate on getting him signed on for four more years. It’s especially crucial given the situation surrounding Adebayor, who like him or not, will get you 15-30 goals a season. We can’t afford to lose both of those players.

Arsenal shot out the blocks yesterday, they really did – we’d netted three by 18 minutes – with the pick of those goals being Diaby’s header. That was bettered by the fourth and, as it turned out, final goal, a spin and volley from van Persie following a shambolic header by Delap. He should stick to throw-ins.

I slipped out five minutes before half-time for a beer (I know, I know, what a git) and missed that goal. Serves me right.

What I will say to Arsenal though, in my defence, is that the facilities at the ground are so shambolic that if you do want a drink at half time, then if you don’t get in there early you can forget it. It does stagger me that a brand-new ground has got its bar areas so very wrong – and has not solved it in three years – but the fact the queues were 15 deep five minutes before the half ended says it all.

The Millennium Stadium did it right: They had enormous beer-pouring machines that looked like the kind of things that picked skittles up in bowling alleys and delivered 16 beers in one go. Thirsty punters zipped through the queues.

Anyway, I digress slightly.

Often, second halves after first halves like that are a damp squib, and I’m afraid yesterday’s was too. Arsenal just larked about on the edge of the D, trying to pass the ball through the eye of a needle. It looked fun but it wasn’t very effective, but hey, so what. They’d earned it after that first half.

In the end, debutant Vito Mannone couldn’t have had less to do. It really was that lop-sided.

So an excellent end to the season, and one that sets the summer up nicely. The Telegraph’s Henry Winter, on Twitter, asserted that Arsenal will be a real force with the addition of a goalie, a centre half and a strong central midfielder, and he’s spot on. It’s something we’ve been saying all season and it remains true to this day, even given the improvement of some of our players – Alex Song and to a lesser degree, Denilson, for example. Some would say we don’t need a goalkeeper but I think we do – someone who can genuinely challenge Almunia for his place. He has nobody breathing down his neck in all honesty – Fabianski is some distance off.

We’re about a week off the re-opening of the transfer window, when the fun will really start.

Potential new recruits will give us something interesting to babble on about, but I suspect there’ll be plenty of dull stories about players leaving too. Rough and smooth.

OK, breakfast time. Enjoy your bank holiday, all those who are in possession of one.

Update

What with it being the end of the season, I’ve had a bit of a fiddle with the layout and look of the blog. So of course, if it doesn’t work, or you’ve got any suggestions, then feel free to email me (eastlower at googlemail.com).

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