A month has leaked away since my last post, and despite a recent uptick in form and results, Iâ€™m struggling to get goodly excited by whatâ€™s left of this campaign. I have been semi-detached for some time; letâ€™s call it the open close season. Iâ€™ve missed a few games for one reason or another and – honestly – I havenâ€™t missed it.
Swansea at home slugged my faint league hopes across the chops, we toppled out of the European Cup in the usual place and at the usual time, and we then got our left and boots muddled up in our one realistic remaining trophy hunt. Watford – since handsomely and easily despatched – look ahead to Wembley while we look ahead toâ€¦ to what exactly?
Well, Wenger continues to argue that thereâ€™s still plenty to play for, and I suppose he has to. In my fleeting moments of wild optimism I look at the fixtures and think: ooh, Leicester and Tottingham have got some tough games, and if we go on a juicy run then this might happen and that might happen and ooof, suddenly it could be a massive case of Crikey George, crumbs-this-is-hotting-up.
But in my heart of hearts I accept itâ€™s as good as over. I donâ€™t think Wenger will be turning water into wine. It feels far likelier that Ranieri will be turning Drinkwater into Drinkwine (tortured analogy – please rewrite – Ed).
Yes, thereâ€™s room for optimism after two very good wins. Wenger has hit upon a midfield formula with the quietly excellent Elneny at its heart. Iwobi – promoted because nothing else was working or nobody else was fit – is that fair or am I being a bit harsh? – has jumped at the chance and scattered the Walcotts of this world to the four winds, and Welbeckâ€™s dynamism has added pace to our game when it was desperately needed.
But itâ€™s only been two games, and itâ€™s probably too late, so it does feel a bit as if the next month is little more than a procession to the usual destination. Of course itâ€™s not over till itâ€™s over, but Leicester are showing little generosity of spirit to poor old stumbling Arsenal, the selfish swine. Canâ€™t they see weâ€™ve had a rotten time of it?
This season for Arsenal has largely played out barring the kind of finale we all dream about (but mostly wake up from just when it gets good and realise we have to go to work and itâ€™s raining and cold). There will be a massive post-mortem to accompany the lengthy pre-mortem thatâ€™s been going on since Collaps-o-Arsenalâ„¢ reared its ugly head on Boxing Day. I canâ€™t say I look forward to that.
But until then, thereâ€™s always the slither of hope. Because if relegation-haunted Sunderland roll the right Allardyce and pull off a much-needed home win, and if we continue our decent burst of form with a win at Upton Park, and if things click for United over at our friendly neighbours, well then, weâ€™d find ourselves if not in the thick of it then very much approaching the thickness of it, and well, should that come to pass then – eek! – this is totally game on and what was I thinking detaching myself from one of the most exciting title races of all time?
Itâ€™s a right sod.