TERRACE TALK: Arsenal - Sunday stroll demonstrates why both sides fell short

As beautiful as it was to hear Andrea Bocelli serenading the Foxes’ fans at the King Power on Saturday, their duly euphoric celebrations of this fairytale Premier League triumph made for particularly painful viewing, knowing full well that yesterday’s encounter at Man City should have been this season’s title decider.

While we might have witnessed a meeting of the two sides that, on paper at least, both contain the quality necessary to reign supreme, sadly there proved to be a lamentable absence of the sort of intensity and appetite for Sunday’s stroll in the sunshine, which ably demonstrated why both sides failed miserably to live up to our lofty expectations.

I’m certainly not moaning, since it was only a couple of weeks back that the Gunners already appeared doomed to suffer the ignominious fate of ending this season trailing in the wake of the Pochettino-inspired renaissance at White Hart Lane.

In truth, I’d already resigned myself to finishing below Spurs and was consoling myself with the thought that, compared to the excruciating prospect of the old enemy pipping Leicester to the post, throwing my Spurs pals this rare bone, only the once every couple of decades would really be no big deal.

I would’ve bitten your hand off back then, if you’d offered me the opportunity to be going into the last game of the season with second place still up for grabs, while savouring the sphincter-twitching anxieties of my Lilywhite mates and their dread of another dodgy lasagne.

Nevertheless, after the Saints earned their halos with a triumph in the sweltering heat at Tottenham, I at least expected the Gunners to match the honest attitude shown by Koeman’s team in Sunday’s lunchtime KO. It seems that it was somewhat naive of me to expect the homegrown likes of Jack Wilshere to be champing at the bit to kick open the door that Spurs had kindly left ajar.

So while I was happy enough that the Gunners were able to hang on for a point, after twice going behind, it was evident we only really started playing when we were 2-1 down. My satisfaction with the draw was tinged with disappointment that this was the limit of the Arsenal’s ambition.

Our prospects of wrestling second place from Spurs hinge on Wednesday’s game at the Stadium of Light and Everton’s ability to prevent Sunderland from condemning Newcastle to relegation, as we badly need Spurs to be travelling to St James’ Park on Sunday with the Toon still battling for their Premier League lives.

Nevertheless, although the team might have been solely focused on securing guaranteed Champions League football with third place, the renewed hope of redemption offered by leapfrogging Spurs at the death seems to have satiated the travelling Gooner faithful, to the extent that the banner boys were shouted down at the Etihad. Yet sadly, no matter what transpires in the final week, nothing can dispel the abiding mood of despair over quite how badly the Gunners have blown it this season.

I can’t honestly envisage Man United pooping the Hammers’ farewell party at the Boleyn tomorrow, but it’s nonetheless amusing to think Guardiola could be taking over a City side deprived of Champions League football when they were playing for a place in the final only last week.

Still, with Pep’s much lauded arrival as well as the changes afoot at all our traditional competitors, it’s evident the conflux of circumstances that resulted in their disastrous starts to this campaign are unlikely to be repeated. Worse, with Arsene seemingly going nowhere anytime soon, the stale microclimate that’s closeted London N5 with a stifling air of disunity is only set to endure.

Elsewhere, the extra TV cash is destined to result in the continued all-round improvement of the level of competition and ambitions of those such as Leicester, Spurs, and West Ham. All of which leaves us only too aware that we could live another lifetime, without being presented with a better opportunity to win the league.

If only our blinkered stars had appreciated how unique this situation was, that this was their time, then it might have encouraged that crucial extra 5%-10% commitment that could have seen us Gooners enjoying the dulcet strains of Bocelli singing, what should be our new anthem, Con Te Partiro — Time To Say Goodbye.

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