I was very excited in anticipation for the last weekend. It promised much drinking with friends, music, travel and above all the day Arsenal finally broke their drought of trophies. So nothing then could be more painful when the two fate-full days disappointed in most respects (except for the drinking with friends part though, thank god for that!). The best maybe, was the nail-biting India-England match (and you know its sad when I’ve to quote a cricket match as the weekend’s high point).
Anyways let’s be focussed on the beautiful game here. It was termed to be the day when Arsene Wenger’s philosophy bore its first (albeit small) fruit. It was to be the culmination of endless hours spent by young stars such like Wilshere, Nasri and Van Persie, toiling towards perfect footballing finesse. And most importantly, it was when millions of Gunners worldwide would be rewarded for their patience and trust in everything the club stands for.
Fact they say is often stranger than fiction, and so it turned out in this case. The moment and fervent anticipation got a wee bit to the young players, ofcourse compounded by the absence of their mercurial captain. The Gunners then, never got into full flow, except for a brief period in the second half, and in the end succumbed to the kind of mistake they are always vilified for.
A mix up between the precocious goalkeeper and (relatively) experienced Koscielny led to the most embarrassing of goals, though that is lesser of the two evils considering how deflated it would have left the players. I do not need to repeat here the barrage of the world’s media on Wenger’s stubborn refusal to get a reliable keeper and his lackadaisical approach towards shoring his team’s defences.
While the above might be true (personally I don’t agree), but even if so, can anyone take away from us the mesmerising goal that was scored by Van Persie. Richard Williams called it one of the most beautiful goals ever scored in a Wembley final, and it indeed was quintessentially Arsenal. A fast flowing counter attack followed by a thundering strike from Wilshere which unfortunately bounced off the woodwork. Only to be collected by a fleet-footed Arshavin, and his cross was volleyed goal-bound by an acrobatic Van Persie.
But as always with Arsenal, it had to be bittersweet, and that acrobatic shot left Van Persie with a knock, which now rules him out of the Barca return tie in the Champions League. Strangely that is not what worries me. What does is the fact that while we are good enough to trouble excellent outfits like Barcelona and top teams in the League, we do still have that soft belly when facing stubborn physical teams that look for breaking our rhythm and blocking all entries to goal. In short we still find it hard to win ugly.
Also lacking is the impetus when the best are missing. I mean Rosicky is nowhere as good as he should be, Bendtner is an enigma to say the least, and that is not what you expect from your bench strength. Where is the hunger that was so innate in Viera and Henry. Bendtner seems almost casual about the way he carries himself on the pitch. As if the opponents would feel obliged and let him score.
But despite all this I still follow the club and would continue to do so forever. There are a million reasons for it, but if I’ve to point out only one, then it is that we don’t buy talent. We do it the hard way, by nurturing them and watching the sapling grow and finally bear fruit. And the world is proof that every time an Arsenal team walks out on the pitch, there is anticipation in the air. We know that things might turn pear-shaped, but with increasing frequency the team is mesmerising one and all, displaying pure, flowing and positive football.
For all the detractors, let me point out that in the long history of English football, we still are the only ones alongwith Preston North End to have gone through an entire season undefeated. The invisible era might seem like a faded memory to all Manchester and Chelsea fans, but mind you it was the same manager who brought about it, and he can’t be taken lightly. This season I believe is the tipping point and that elusive trophy is certainly not far now (whatever the omens might be).
We are the Arsenal, and make no mistake, we are as hungry for trophies as all the rest. Victoria Concordia Crescit or “victory through harmony” that is the motto of Arsenal football club, and for sure the current managers believes in it to the hilt. If it takes a few more months for that motto, and the philosophy inspired by it to bear fruit, then so be it. We’ll wait Arsene, cause when it manifests, nothing would be sweeter.
- Carling Cup Final 2011 Joy & Despair: Birmingham City Vs Arsenal Photo Special (caughtoffside.com)
- Criticism Is The Motivation Needed (aculturedleftfoot.wordpress.com)
- Arsenal’s trophy drought continues after gifting Birmingham late Carling Cup winner (thearmchairsportsfan.com)