Of all the remaining matches in the run in, our trip to Wearside looked the most likely banana skin.
With Benitez having somehow brought Newcastle back from the dead and with BFS always reveling in any opportunity to get one over on Arsène, the Black Cats were bound to be well motivated to try and get something out of yesterday’s game.
On paper, our trip to Man City is the most problematic.
Yet whatever fate has in store for what is looking increasingly like a 3rd/4th place play-off (unless United interject), one would fancy the Gunners can at least be guaranteed to turn up for one last big, end of season hurrah at the Etihad.
However, after West Brom presented us with such a one-sided walkover at our place on Thursday night, I was worried whether the same starting XI could be relied upon to rediscover intensity required to turn over more resolute opposition, with Sunderland desperate to avoid relegation.
Although Alexis was bristling with intent against the Baggies, as if by way of an apology for our side’s sedentary failure to see off the Eagles the previous weekend, sadly Sunderland had his number.
I’m unsure if Chile has a tradition of bullfighting, but all that was missing was the red cape and the sword, to apply the coup de grace to his midweek matador impersonation. Yet while his twists and turns drew deserved “oles”, sadly they don’t impact upon our depressing goal difference and against the Black Cats on Sunday, the Gunners uninspiring attacking sword was disappointingly blunt.
Most matches at this time of the year tend to be at opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum.
Either they’re testimonial-like strolls or they’re thrillingly dramatic, death or glory contests.
Following another week of wall-to-wall, live TV matches, with the rush to shoehorn in the remaining games, the resentment levels amongst us Gooners continues to rise, as we are left with our noses pressed up against the window, covetously drooling over the haute cuisine being served up on the inside.
Spoiled Gooners mustn’t forget this is the norm for fans of most clubs.
Yet the tide of anger merely existing in our secure, cash-rich, comfort zone, continues to rise and the infighting grows. The increasingly galling bunch of banner-boy fans incite more outrage amongst hardcore travelling faithful, to the point where it’s bound to end in tears.
There’s little more infuriating than to contrast the dynamic way Spurs went about dynamiting the less than fortress-like walls of the Britannia last Monday, with our uninspired assault on the Stadium of Light. To contrast Delle Alli’s zestful appetite to influence proceedings with the indifference of the likes of Özil and Ramsey.
The long schlep south was momentarily brightened by the crumb of comfort that was the sound of “Are you watching Tottenham” echoing out from the King Power. We’re fast having to learn to walk in the humiliating shoes, well worn by our north London neighbours, where the only satisfaction to be had is the limited solace offered by such schadenfreude.
Wilshere’s brief cameo was a bonus but there’s no hiding my disgust that he can offer too little, too late for the Arsenal. And another standout effort from Elneny must annoy the Wenger Out Brigade no end, with le Gaffer having unearthed another bargain diamond in the rough.
Change will come, but only at a time of Arsène’s choosing.
The stubborn old bugger won’t bow in the face of pressure from our feeble boo-boys. A single Gooner running out on 75 minutes last Thursday , busting for a jimmy riddle, hardly qualified as the “walk out” and the inertia that exists amongst our home audience isn’t the incendiary material necessary to kindle a revolution amongst our particularly well-heeled peasants.
It would be ironic if Wenger decided to walk, after we’ve already missed the boat on the most alluring replacements. But bearing in mind Arsène is bound to have by far the greatest influence upon all decisions relating to succession, I pray he has the sense to recognise the writing on the wall.
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