When I began this blog, back in March 2006, it was primarily so that I could vent my spleen when Arsenal failed to produce the goods and made me unhappy. This has happened quite a few times since then, notably the day we lost to West Ham at home last season and I can tell you that ranting on a blog , whether anyone reads it or not, is an extremely good way of getting rid of the pain inside.
Conversely then, when we play well, there is almost nothing to say. No spleens need venting and no anger exists inside. So far this season, I have not felt the need to write a single word on my blog. For all you thousands of readers who check my website religiously on a daily basis, I apologise – but I am a very superstitious football fan who believes that crowing about success will inevitably invite failure to pay a visit.
However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about blogging all this time! And I’ve decided that enough is enough – there is no logic to the theory that says that anything that I say on this website has any bearing on the success or otherwise of Arsenal Football Club. So here goes…
Just before the start of the new season, I wrote about my belief that we needed several new players who had skills and abilities that we badly lacked last season. It appears that we now have those players – but the strange thing is, it turns out that we already had them!
The performances and attitude of the team this season has, so far, been outstanding – and coming from the biggest cynic on planet Earth, that really is praise indeed. Somehow (in true Arsenal fashion, I might add), the loss of Thierry Henry in the summer has galvanised the rest of the squad and the team has stormed to the top of the league and stayed there, scoring tons of goals and playing fantastic football. Last season, I enjoyed exactly one home game – Manchester United. This season, I think I’ve actually enjoyed them all!
The odd thing is, the last time we were brilliant, it was mainly due to an individual of world class quality whereas this time around it is a team effort. It’s hard to pick out individuals who have outshone the others this season – everyone waxes lyrical about Fabregas – he is world class and there is no doubt that he has had a tremendous influence. But we won without him last night so it is not solely down to him. Emmanuel Adebayor has stepped up and taken responsibility up front in the absence not only of Henry but of Van Persie for most of the season so far and deserves credit. Mathieu Flamini has been superb in midfield, initially covering for Gilberto and now in the first team on merit. The whole defence has performed admirably and Manuel Almunia has been excellent, despite his doubters (who mainly have German accents and struggle not to make themselves heard). But surely the player of the season so far has to be Alexander Hleb. Who would have thought that I would have said that this time last year?!
Back in April 2006, we drew 1-1 away at Portsmouth and put ourselves 4 points behind Tottenham with 5 games to go and I wrote:-
When you desperately need a goal to beat a relegation-threatened side away from home, bringing on Alexander Hleb is not going to do it for you.
Well, what a turnaround! I could go so far as to say the exact opposite now! If we were in that position on Wednesday, I would be screaming at Arsene to bring him on as soon as possible. By sticking with him and proving that he is a class act, Arsene Wenger has proved what I, and most of my friends, have believed for many years – I know precisely nothing about football. Thanks Arsene.
As I said earlier, I really hope I haven’t jinxed things by posting this – can someone who knows so little about football really have that kind of effect on an entire football team that he’s never even met?!
We shall see…