A mix of regret and hope for the future

SUNDAY’S triumphant victory over Man United was tinged with the bittersweet regret about what might have been.

Nevertheless I was so desperate for the Arsenal’s faltering season to end on a high note that I was fully prepared to pull out all the superstitious stops.

The omens seemed auspicious on Sunday morning; from the moment all four of Sky’s journo pundits plumped for a Man United win.

Having made a conscious decision to don the exact same attire I’d worn to Bloomfield Road, the last time we’d enjoyed success against Blackpool, I heard the news of Cesc’s withdrawal affording me with the excuse to dawdle a little longer while I went back to change my Fabregas t-shirt.

Who knows whether Cesc truly tweaked a hamstring or if his criticisms in the Spanish press caused him to be excluded? Whatever the case, from my point of view, Cesc’s absence proved providential with Aaron Ramsey rising Phoenix-like from the flames of Ryan Shawcross’ savagery.

Ramsey, Wilshere and Song: now that’s our future.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve witnessed far too many false dawns and I’m sure that if a single point hadn’t been sufficient for the visitors, psychologically their approach to the game might’ve been adventurous.

However this good old-fashioned “1-0 to the Arsenal” was a win which will have warmed the cockles of le Gaffer’s increasingly overtaxed heart.

Leaving aside the obvious frailties responsible for falling at the last fence, I’ve always argued that the principal missing do-or-die ingredient of a winning team spirit can’t be purchased off the shelf. Apart from the obvious euphoric instant when Ramsey’s shot left Van der Sar flailing, it was Koscielny’s second-half cameo which was most inspiring.

Yet despite the burgeoning evidence in the wholly committed attitudes of the likes of Szczesny, Koscielny, Wilshere and Ramsey that Arsène’s green-fingered endeavours are finally beginning to bear fruit, another barren season stands as testament to accept that we can’t continue tending the Gunners garden alone.

If you hark back to oft quoted aphorism about the necessity for either changing the manager, or the team, every five years, then it seems evident that changes are required both off and on the pitch.

To continue the horticultural analogy, unlike all those misguided idiots, who want to dig over the entire ground and start from scratch, I firmly believe le Gaffer’s great project will begin to bear silverware laden fruit, if only he’d turn for some help from the sort of Arsenal agronomists who are capable of ruthless pruning and tender watering in equal measure.

Meanwhile, as weary as we might be with our years of wandering the wilderness, awaiting our arrival at the Promised Land, Sunday’s victory does at least offer a glimpse of the sort of footballing milk and honey we might enjoy on arrival, if we’re patient enough to keep the faith.

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