Arsenal will celebrate Arsene Wenger’s 22-year managerial reign around his final home match against Burnley tomorrow, but the party lap of honour is in danger of turning into a funeral march after their Europa League humbling in Spain.
Theo Walcott’s epiphany, 10 years after first arriving at the club and at the grand old age of 27, that he is a winger not a striker inspired Arsenal to a Champions League victory over Basel and, coming just three days after a fine victory over Chelsea, has raised levels of positivity at the Emirates to new levels.
What marks Pep Guardiola out as a manager is his different – almost unique – way of looking at football, and that was never clearer than in his press conference ahead of Bayern Munich’s trip to the Emirates, when he claimed Arsenal “have the advantage”.
I LOVE beating Arsenal. I absolutely LOVE IT. They just take it SO badly — it’s always somebody else’s fault, they’ve always been swindled, it’s not fair, they’re the Corinthians of the English game dontcha know. There are toys scattered all around North London.
Zagreb was hit by an earthquake on Tuesday night and perhaps that was an omen for the Gunners who had striker Olivier Giroud sent off as they slumped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat in their Champions League Group F opener at Dinamo Zagreb.
Considering he was just about the only Arsenal player to come out of last Sunday’s lamentably anti-climactic curtain-raiser with any credit, the Ox must have been disappointed to have found himself benched for Sunday’s encounter at Crystal Palace.
Winning the Community Shield is rarely a reliable indicator of who will end the season as champions but Arsenal’s landmark win over Chelsea at Wembley does confirm their growing reputation as the most interesting contender in the 2015-16 title race.
Arsenal needed a point to all but confirm third place in the Premier League; Sunderland needed a point to escape relegation; three of the last six games between the teams at the Emirates had ended goalless. Can you guess what the score was yet?