Now I’m not one to get carried away with optimism where Arsenal are concerned. During the Brighton game when we went 4-1 up I allowed myself a brief thought that we might win the league this season, only for the last 25 minutes of the game to bring me back to my senses. But all of a sudden I am now believing that this season we could actually do it, and the way in which Tottenham were swatted aside in the first half on Sunday was the final thing I needed to convince me.
In terms of a footballing weekend it couldn’t have gone much better for The Arsenal. I’d have probably preferred a draw in the game at Old Trafford, but probably better a United win than City (and I say that in the full knowledge that United could be the ones closest to us come Sunday night), and Newcastle dropping points would have made it absolutely perfect. Liverpool losing, and Spurs on the receiving end from Arsenal, should mean we can concentrate on actually winning the Title instead of looking over our shoulders at 5th place. If Arsenal blow the top 4 positions (about which I care not one bit) then there’ll have only themselves to blame.
I’m not the first to say it, but there is a real feeling of togetherness about Arsenal right now, and I don’t just mean the players. Arteta has tapped in to what makes us all tick. He’s understood the “Arsenal against the World” mentality that had always been our way until the last 10-15 years of relative mediocrity – I use the word “relatively” as we’ve still been in the business of winning trophies during that time, something others can only dream of. I’m in my mid-40’s this year, and that makes me old enough to remember the way George Graham positively engineered situations that fed inspiration to his teams via the media hatred of our club. The recent joke FA charges against the club are exactly the sort of thing George put to good use, famously after the Old Trafford brawl in 1990. Arteta seems of a similar ilk, and has even cleared the squad of overpaid underachievers as George did back in the late 1980’s, bringing in young and hungry and heavily talented footballers.
Sunday actually started as a very sad day for us Dover Gooners as we got the news that one of our founder members, Bill Browning, had sadly passed away. Bill had phoned me just before Christmas to congratulate me on a piece I wrote on this here website last March about my Dad, and I’m delighted to have that one last memory and one last chat with him. Bill was a great friend to all of us over the last 30+ years, and we travelled all over watching Arsenal as a group of family and friends. He’s been missed the past few years as his health got the better of him, and it’s with a heavy heart that I pay tribute to a dear old friend here. I like to think that what Arsenal did at Tottenham on Sunday was for Bill, and that him, Frank and John (who’ve also left us in recent years) had a few beers at the great pub in the sky on Sunday night to celebrate. Let’s hope we’re celebrating with them come May. With the way this team is playing, if they can have a little luck with injuries, and not get shafted by the authorities, I believe we just might do it.