While many Gooners are understandably upset about the team’s recent form in the league, it would far too premature to say that we’ve “officially blown it.” Being effectively three points behind but with a trip to Old Trafford in a couple of weeks means its far from over. Of course, if we don’t start winning now then that match will be a formality. The team’s performance this year has raised our expectations but we shouldn’t forget that this is just the beginning of what looks to be a long period of success for the club. Many pundits predicted us to finish fourth or worse. Even I thought we would finish 3rd and get to the Champions League Quarterfinals.
Now we do have issues and areas that need to be addressed. For instance, more experienced backup players and what seem to be chronic injuries to a few players. But if we don’t win the league this year it’s not the end of this team. We are young and are already a year or two ahead of where even the more optimistic fans thought we’d be. I could understand the dramatic pronouncements if we were an older team in what might be their last shot at a title but we will be contending for the League and the Champions League for years to come. We had to pay a price for it, namely the last two years, but it all seems worth it now.
If we don’t win the league, I will be as gutted as any Arsenal supporter. But I also realize that we are at the start of what may be the most glorious period in the club’s long and already glorious history. Having said all that, it is not over by a long shot. We have 8 games remaining are only behind three points (conceding United a victory against Bolton). United have not shown great form as of late either. They barely squeaked by Derby on the weekend and did the same against Lyon over two matches. They also fell to Pompey at Old Trafford. United are not infallible and will drop points between now and the end. If things stay this tight and we go to Old Trafford and get the points (like we did last year) then the title race looks alot different. Of course, we are still way behind on goal difference so we have to beat them on points. The psychological blow to United of being defeated at home by us could be the catalyst that seals the league in our favor.
So while calls for Arsene’s head on numerous Arsenal forums abound, I think we need to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective. This can be extremely hard when you’ve been embroiled in a neck and neck title race for the last 6 months. The pessimism shown by many Arsenal fans leads one to wonder. Shouldn’t being a supporter mean having faith in your side? Haven’t these players and the manager earned that through their performances for most of the season. We have seen some glorious moments this season including the wins against Tottenham, Milan, Blackburn in the Carling Cup, etc… Unfortunately they have been mitigated by some horrible results. We have shown character and spirit all year long. No team has a better record after trailing by one goal than Arsenal. How many times this year have we secured points in the dying minutes of the match? In fact, we score more goals in the last fifteen minutes of matches than we do over the other 75 minutes. This team will not just fade away and hand the title to United as we did in 2003. So, even though it’s not looking good, it’s not over by a long shot.
I would say that, despite their flaws, the players have earned our respect and our support this year and it would be a great disservice to them and the club to write them off before the final whistle is blown. The sun has not yet set on the Arsenal.
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