Third Place.

Morning Gooners,

Never in doubt right? Sure!

Sunday’s game against WBA brought down the curtain on what has been the most ‘rollercoaster’ seasons in recent memory. A much needed first win in five against the Baggies meant we successfully limped over the line for 3rd place.

The game itself was consistent with recent performances but it really didn’t matter. In the end it was only the result that mattered, we needed a win and we got it.

I didn’t get much sleep the night before, probably less sleep than any cup final I’ve been to, including Paris in 2006. There felt like so much was riding on this one game; automatic Champions League qualification, not being directly affected by the Champions League final, ability to attract players before the Euro’s and finishing above Tottnum. Plenty to play for!

The journey up was a nervous one to say the least, many were prepared for the worst given recent performances and missing players. Dutch courage was needed… On to the Square Peg pub in Birmingham City centre! The meeting point for the away Gooners was awash with fancy dress costumes including, Where’s Wally, Terry Tibbs, Mr T and away day legend, Tim Stillman dressed as Pat Rice. Cones and Sunglasses included with the kit. The underlying feeling of nervousness lay behind the unrelenting chanting that eventually attracted the police to the pub!

Game time and Le Boss had made the decision to bring in defensive cover, dropping Ramsey to the bench and promoting Coquelin to midfield. Santos also replaced Gibbs at left back.

Similar to the Norwich game, we took the lead early with the first of three mistakes from Marton Fulop. Full marks to Yossi for chasing what seemed a lost cause and then tapping into an empty net. The similarities to the Norwich game didn’t stop there as our defence were dissected twice in quick succession to put us 2-1 behind. The first goal was clearly offside but the second was sloppy and lacked the basic defensive discipline. Arsenal eventually settled and Santos picked up the ball from a great tackle by Song to fire us level. While we didn’t create anything further that half, we needed to go in level at half time as the team looked nervous.

We seemed more settled in the second half with Theo coming on for a rusty/injured looking Rosicky. The 3rd goal was yet again down to the fantastic goal keeping ability of Fulop, who incidentally had been on the books at Tottnum for 3 years! As he came to punch a corner away, he somehow managed to punch it backwards toward a gleeful Koscielny to flick in. 3-2 but we all know what happen against Norwich.

Arsenal again created little else and slowly started sitting deeper and deeper thus inviting WBA on to us. They started peppering Szcz’ goal with crosses and pot shots but it was in the final minute Gibbs, who had come on for Santos, made a season defining tackle. As the West Brom player ran onto the through ball to shoot, Gibbs slid in from no where to perfectly time a tackle that won us the game. Being slightly critical I’d kind of want to know why the left hand side of the area was left unmarked and why was Gibb’s caught infield but I’ll leave it!

The final two minutes were absolute agony, WBA were winning silly free kicks and throw ons on the half way line however they didn’t feel the need to lump the ball into the box for an equaliser. When the final whistle went, the noise from the away section was deafening. 9 challenging months of frustration, public ridicule and uncertainty came out in a primal roar of satisfaction. @Averz86, @Palerme12 and I were standing up on our seats going a little bit crazy. The post game celebrations reminded me of a cup final but this was bigger than winning the FA or Carling cup. Opposition fans will laugh at such a statement but there are plenty of factors that back my personal theory. Firstly, our club needs the financial backing of the Champions League to maintain debt payments for the stadium until at least 2014, when a number of commercial deals expire. To attract the top talent in Europe (albeit on a budget) we need CL to remain competitive and lastly, I’ve got used to St Totteringham’s Day, why change that!!

The players celebrated but also seemed quite confused as they stood the middle of the pitch at the end! Eventually the penny dropped and they came over to thank the fans and bring over a special guest, Mr Pat ‘Arsenal’ Rice. Pat has been a loyal Arsenal servant for 44years and deserved a beautiful send off. Throughout my time so far as an Arsenal fan, I can not remember ever looking at our bench and not seeing Pat. He has been an institution at the Arsenal as a player and coach. ‘There’s only one Pat Rice’. Thank you.

 

Rumours are that Wenger and RVP will sit down today to start discussing the latter’s future. The press and twitter will spread rumours to second guess what is going on behind closed doors but we won’t truly know what is going on until we are told something official. The fact is anything is possible. RVP may sign a new extension; he may request a transfer to seek pastures new; we may then reject such a request and ask RVP to see out his contract. Time will tell.

As the dust settles on another season I will be back with a fuller season’s review (and there’ PLENTY to talk about) but for now let’s enjoy what many of us thought wasn’t possible. Arsenal’s worst start in 58 years after Selling Na$ri and Cesc, losing 4 of their first 7 games… we not only finished in the top four, but in third place. While many factors/problems need to be sorted on and off the pitch, let’s just appreciate the fruits of our recent hard work.

To the Arsenal, our Arsenal.

Have a great day.

@Tottz82

  • patrick

    I think the Gunners will need to buy to “close the gap” as well. Injuries played a part for sure, but the only competition for certain positions this season was whomever was fit. Positions I have a “?” next to for who is challenging the first pick are: GK, RB, DM, and F. Thus, while Szcesny is a good GK, there’s no realistic competition for his spot. The gulf between Sagna and whomever else plays RB is immense. Similarly, the player who fills in up top in RVP’s absence is uncertain, with Gervinho and Theo not clearly in my mind a replacement in that role. Finally, I don’t believe anyone else in the team comes close to being able to replace Song. All that said, at least center back is no longer Arsenal’s thinnest position!

  • lance

    It doesn’t really matter who Man City buy. You can only play 11 players. And who would they drop? Perhaps a centre back and maybe a central midfielder might be on the cards but they’re team is close to full. United had Vidic out pretty much all year. They’ve had some tough injuries just like us. Fergie will have Scholes back and he’ll have not only fit players but I’m sure he’ll splash out the cash on 2-3 players. They lost the league on goal difference with a so-called “limited” team. I didn’t think they were limited tho. As for us, well Spurs fans will be cheering that they’re closing the gap. But once again a facade. We had the worst injury list of any top team. No Wilshere and no fullbacks for 2 months. We had a horrid summer and made a lot of last minute signings that took time to bed in. Already with the signing of Podolski, we’re better off than last summer. If RVP signs, we can only get better. If he doesn’t, I’m sure we’ll sign players that will replace him. Chelski had a transition year with AVB. But when they got back to basics…defending well, playing with power and with a more direct style, they were much much better. If they win the Champs League, they’ll sign players to come again as well. And not to mention I’m sure Spurs, Newcastle, Everton and Liverpool will add players or coaching personnel to get better. Whatever the case, the league is only getting better and stronger. I believe that the top 4 will be very close next year.

  • sistable

    The RVP situation is hard, but if he wont sign a contact this summer the best option for Arsenal is to sell him. Making him stay for the final year of his contract would mean we wouldn’t see the best of him as he’d be worried about picking up knocks and injuries that would effect his future move and potential earning capacity. I loved Cesc but you could see in his final year he was worried about about his fitness and how if he picked up an injury that it would scupper a move to barca (which I dont begrudge him). On top of this RVP has a vast history of injuries, so a massive pay day which could be re-invested might not be so bad. However as a fan I want to see him stay as he’s become a true leader and fantastic player, also watching a superstar leave every year is completely depressing. Its a difficult situation, RVP just has to be honest and let business, whichever way it goes, be completed as soon as possible.. Here’s to hoping he stays!

  • ArseFan101

    Just saw Oxlade included in the squad. Suprising. But he could be amazing – Wenger has kept him at bay, but if he has a good summer he could be a starter by next season!

  • lance

    Will he or won’t he? Every end of season we seem to be asking ourselves if our better players will stay or leave. I’m sick and tired of this sorry saga that engulfed our club evey summer as it will disrupt our preparation for the upcoming season if we allow this to drag on. Sell Rvp soonest possible if he doesn’t want to stay and let’s move on. No individual is bigger than the club and it’s not like we haven’t lost our best player before. The consolation is next summer will be a quiet one as no big clubs will make a bid for the remaining players who are no world beaters. I blame the decision makers at the club(including Wenger) for the situation we find ourselves in every year. The lack of ambition, the ill-prepared defence, the joy of finishing 3rd and above spuds is making me furious. Years of brain washing does has an effect. We praised our Leader for leading us to a CL spot after the worse start in 30 yrs but who’s fault was it that we had such a terrible start? In seasons past Wenger was blasted for the team imploding in Feb/ March but now he’s hailed a hero for the team falling out of the title race in September. What’s going on?

  • andrew

    Every time people talk about Arsenal’s “lack of ambition” I cannot help but think it is purely the financial contraints of the new stadium.

    What are your thoughts about the $$ situation at the Arsenal? As the club is owned by shareholders (albeit just a few who are very wealthy) is that why there is no City/Chelsea/United/Liverpool style investment in the squad???

    I simply disagree or am unwilling to accept the charges by many that this issue is down to Wenger’s stubborness. If he had the money, surely he’d spend it, right?

  • lance

    Patrick’s comments should give us a ray of hope: what he is saying, in essence, is what a lot of us have surmised, that Robin will stay if he believes Arsenal can win major trophies. Which means, of course, that he wants to see the Club hierarchy allow Arsene to make several signings of world class players. This has been an ongoing situation for many years now, during which there has been an exodus of world class players. The difference is, as Patrick points out (despite being generous about Jack), Robin is the last of them. So (sorry to repeat myself) the ball is in Stanley’s court. Not Wenger’s, Stanley’s.