Going into the last day of the premier league season almost all the important positions in the table had been decided. Manchester United had won the title on a canter and all three relegation spots had also been decided. That meant that all eyes were focused on the two North London teams, Arsenal and Tottenham on who could get that final Champions League spot.
Before the game Arsene Wenger had said that his team would have to battle the nerves along the way and that showed during the first half vs Newcastle. Arsenal looked very sluggish and struggled to create any chances of note. Arsenal finally got the goal they required through some brilliant athleticism from Koscielny. After the goal you felt that Arsenal would want to protect that lead and that is exactly what they did. They stopped pressing the Newcastle back line and started dropping further and further back. Koscielny and Mertesacker handled whatever Newcastle were able to throw at them with minimum fuss.
As the game approached the 90 minute mark, news filtered in that Bale FC had scored vs Sunderland and that set the nerves jangling among the Arsenal faithful. In the second minute of stoppage time Theo Walcott found himself one on one with the goalkeeper and had the chance to make the game safe, after rounding the goalkeeper, he poked the ball towards the far corner of the net only to be denied by the post. You felt that could be a defining moment in the game as there was still about 90 seconds left to play. But Arsenal saw the game out and secured another season in the Champions League.
Credit where credit is due to Arsene Wenger. With 10 games to go he trailed 4th place Tottenham by 7 points and in those last 10 games his side has dropped only 4 points. Its a remarkable statistic and the reason for that run of form was emphasis and focus on the defensive side of the game. After the Tottenham game Arsenal were suddenly defending as a team. Whenever they lost the ball every player was tracking back and getting goal side of the opposition and the comical schoolboy defending we saw at White Hart Lane was suddenly eradicated. This restricted opposition teams to very few chances in open play. Wenger had said that his team had been very consistent post Christmas and he is correct, because no team had accumulated more points than Arsenal in 2013, it just goes to show that with a little more consistency and top quality additions in the summer the team are not far off challenging for the title.
Contrary to what Gary Neville and other people think, Arsenal have had money to spend in the last couple of seasons. In the AST meeting last night it was discussed that Arsenal had a huge surplus of cash at the end of the last summer. This summer Arsenal have £100m to spend on player transfer fees alone excluding wages. This summer maybe one of Arsene Wenger ‘s most important as a manager. Given he has not been offered a new contract yet by Arsenal, if he gets things right this summer he will be able to cement his legacy as Gary Neville said “Greatest managerial performances of all time”. On the contrary if he dithers on signing the players he wants and we end up with the same old cycle next season ie out of the cups by March and fighting for fourth place AGAIN you can be sure that he will not be forgiven by the fans.
I would like to leave you with a bit of positivity. After the game Mikel Arteta who has been a great leader for Arsenal, especially during the run in echoed the feelings of the fans on his twitter account.
“We kept great TOGETHERNESS between Players,Staff,Directors & Supporters and we got rewarded! Proud 2 play 4 Arsenal!Let’s win a tittle now!”
Finally I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog during the season. I know I do not post as regularly as I should but I will make the effort to get more articles in during the next season.
PS: Follow Me on Twitter: @arse_dna