So after a seemingly pointless fortnight of tedious football, where aside from the incredible demise of the Dutch, the only object seemed to be the elimination of minnows such as Gibraltar and San Marino, I was salivating at the return of some proper Premier League entertainment.
Especially after last Thursday’s appetiser of the Arsenal AGM, where obviously the trouncing of Man United in our previous outing somewhat tempered the whiff of revolution in the air. Nevertheless, there were plenty of the unlikely-looking peasants amongst the Arsenal shareholders, who were intent on expressing their dissatisfaction at our disastrous Champions League defeats to Monaco, Zagreb and Olympiacos.
Meanwhile, as Arsène felt obliged to chime in, he’s won a lot more than he’s lost and ultimately the abiding respect for our manager remains such that le Prof’s presence on the dais amongst all the other stuffed-shirts, will invariably save the board from the sort of lambasting that they might otherwise endure.
With the Arsenal’s Fanshare Scheme sadly now defunct and the vast majority of supporters having eventually succumbed to the irresistible temptation to cash-in their token piece of the club, there aren’t many shares left in individual hands. In fact, it won’t be long before the shareholders are outnumbered at the AGM by the expanding multitudes of the global media.
Yet for those that endure, in spite of the mounting frustration at our perennial “also-ran” status, with so many clubs in an almost constant state of flux and with the exception of those with limitless resources, ultimately it’s impossible to ignore the fact that as fans, we are privileged to enjoy fabulous football, when compared with the vast majority of our competitors.
Gazides’ annual overblown Powerpoint polemic invariably leaves me feeling drenched by his blatantly disingenuous assertions that the Arsenal are the best in all aspects of our business (sure Ivan, all but the most important one). But back to the football. It’s great to have Watford back in the Premier League because the short trip to Vicarage Road invariably feels like a home game for me.
It’s always worrying playing last on a Saturday, when the three points are only going to maintain the pressure on the sides who’ve won earlier in the day and Alexis’ goal on the hour mark was a massive relief. I was just beginning to fret our failure to reproduce the same urgency that we’d shown against United, was about to cost us.
The three-goal flurry that resulted from the Gunners’ injection of pace knocked all the stuffing out of our opponents, but I won’t be at all surprised if their tactically astute manager contrives to take points from some of our competitors. Although there are those arguing the benefits of being able to focus on our domestic campaign, by avoiding prolonging the agony of our involvement in the Champions League, we really can’t afford to have the burgeoning sense of optimism brought to an abrupt halt by Bayern tomorrow night and instead require a display that reinforces our status amongst Europe’s elite.