I think I would perhaps be enjoying this fourth-place run-in a bit more if Arsenal were a little less in the wanting zone. I’m finding it hard to prefer this new-found gritty football (‘unremarkable’ as the Independent have it, though they also admired our ruthlessness) over its free-flowing predecessor. But it’s no use forever harping back – this season and perhaps the last one too have been marked by a less flamboyant style of football. That’s diplomatic speak – you can interpret it how you like. Besides, I’m with L.P. Hartley on this one. The past is a foreign country and all that.
It used to be said that even when we were no longer winning stuff, we were still playing the best football in the league. That accolade has been quietly filed away and I am having to fast re-learn the art of grinding one-nils. We’re certainly defending better than we have done in ages. Mertesacker and Koscielny are impressing, Sir Chesney has come back in re-focused and there are options on both defensive flanks.
(PS – I wonder what Sir Ches’s dad thinks now? Credit where it’s due because dropping him worked).
The late George Graham era is so long ago that the mind plays tricks, but I basically remember it as being trillions of one-nils, with all of the goals coming from Ian Wright. It felt a bit like that last season too with almost forty goals coming from one player, but we’ve had to share things around this season. In this period of impressive results but limited goalscoring, we’ve had six different scorers sharing our last eight goals.
Even though his form has not been great, we’ve missed the waving arms and focal-pointiness of Olivier Giroud. Podolski can’t do that, Walcott can’t do that, and of the other two Arsenal players who could fulfil that role, one has forgotten how to play football and is warming the bench in east London and the other prefers coming out of nightclubs with his trousers at half-mast and driving the wrong way down streets.
We’re heading towards the relay finishing line with one baton pass to go. That baton pass has to go in our favour and if it does we need to run our arses off to the finish line. It’s a scenario with too many ifs and buts at the moment and I’d be lying if I said I was enjoying it.