Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal
And so a points difference between us and Our Friends Up That Road™ that was looking at 1.20pm last Sunday like it might be 13 points turns out, just a week later, to be only the four.
Football fortunes can swivel on a sixpence: there’s not much getting away from it.
After three straight defeats in January, when the merest notion of making fourth was taped up in bubble wrap and deposited in the attic, we had two cups to rip into by way of compensation.
Blink again and we’d blown the cups, only to make a quiet then explosive recovery in the league. Dreams of fourth were fetched back down and unwrapped, and now there’s foolish talk of third.
(I say foolish because a) I refuse to jinx anything and b) I’ve watched us play a lot this season and dampen my enthusiasm accordingly).
You won’t get any triumphalism from me though for those very reasons. You only had to look at the first half yesterday – when we were stretched hither and thither – to realise that there’ll in all likelihood be loose shoelaces, black ice and banana skins aplenty over the course of the next 11 games.
But what I liked about yesterday was the togetherness and the spirit. We worked hard – as a team – rode the storm then imposed ourselves better and nicked it at the death. There was a bit of lady luck, maybe, but at the same time the penalty was highly dubious and the own goal was a quite literal slice of bad luck.
All hail the might of Sir Chesney though – he was quite astonishing. Double penalty save, headed clearances, several other crucial saves – the man was the rock we needed in a testing first half.
And there was nothing lucky about our goals. Sagna’s cross (how we’ve benefited from having him back) was so inch-perfect that I reckon even I could have wheezed my way into a scoring position. And Songinho, fresh from unleashing Walcott in the last game, did the very same for van Persie to whistle in another persielicious winner. Our 31-goal captain defies words, at the moment. He scores when he wants.
And so on to the Milan game we go, on Tuesday, for a rubber that, if not yet dead, is barely twitching. Wenger appreciates the reality but says that “everyone expects us to be out, but we are not yet, we are still in there.”
We need to “just go for it”.
Well, yeah. We might be mathematically “still in there” but this is an order of the tallest variety. I can’t dispute the call to “just go for it” but retrieving a four-goal deficit against a wily old dog like Milan is a massive ask. Nevertheless, there’ll be no handbrakes, for sure. You don’t need a handbrake at the bottom of the hill.
There may well be a few less empty seats in the 60,012 crowd though, given our last two results.
And – ooh – I think I might be getting a bit excited about it.
Stop it man, stop it. This is patently daft.