Why play so close to the sea when you don't want to wet? Why did you give us so much hope and suddenly elope into thin air, dashing our hearts to pieces? These are the kind of thoughts that would be running through the minds of the fans of my dear club.
It happened just last night, with the knowledge that last night Tottenham had beaten Burnley one nil. Tottenham is named here because they occupied the fourth position(with Arsenal having a game in hand) before last night's event. Tottenham has 68 points with a +24 goals difference, whilst Arsenal had 66 points with a +4 goals difference. So the event last night was Arsenal's meeting with Newcastle United, a team sitting in 14th position with 43 points, the kind of position and points total that in football we say they have nothing to really play for, at this time of the season.
Alas that "nothing to play for" mantra seemed to emboldened Newcastle that they played fearlessly,consistently and very organised. The Arsenal fan sitting by my side to watch the match told me with a confident mien as the match started that Newcastle has not scored a single goal in the last ten matches. To his utter amazement Newcastle were playing like a team who is so used to scoring and Arsenal playing the opposite way. What was going on he wondered? He concluded by half-time that his team was too tensed up because of the importance of the match, that he expects them to come out in the second half more relaxed and playing their usual game. It was nil all at half-time.
The second half came calling and there was no marked improvement by Arsenal, Newcastle continued what they were doing in the first-half– press Arsenal's defence-line heavily and just incase the beat the press,never allow them time on the ball,using robust tackles. Arsenal should have known that's the way Newcastle will play because that's how they play big clubs. Arteta inexplicably couldn't find a way around Newcastle's style,his midfield collapsed because of this, with star man, Odegaard, missing(eventhough he was on from start to finish) throughout the match.
Newcastle eventually ran out with a well deserved two nil victory. Notable stars last night were Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno Guimarães, even so it was a fine team performance by all and sundry. As for the Gunners, it was heart-break. The players were not in a hurry to leave the pitch,one at least sat on the pitch, it all looked like a loss in a cup final. You needed to see some Arsenal supporters sit back in the stands looking so sad, that's not even the Emirates, it was Newcastle's home, but the fans didn't care to rush home, they sat with that dejected kind of look in their faces.
Well the players and fans are looking at the big picture and they know this lost match was their most realistic chance to get back into the big league – the Champions league– after several years of absence. If Even a victory for Arsenal against Everton,their next and final match of the season will hardly suffice, if Tottenham draws Norwich in their final match. If Tottenham gets a lone goal draw for example ,Arsenal needs to beat Everton with as much as 21 goals to sneak into the Champions league ahead of Tottenham, because of the massive goals difference disparity with Tottenham.
It is the case that a few of us are supporters not fans. My own definition of a fan labels the fan a fanatic,whilst the supporter is more broad minded. Like I said, that's my own definition please.
I already knew that the Arsenal board isn't insisting on a Champions League qualification for Arteta this season, so this loss isn't such a big deal to them. It is contained in my post, Arsenal,Arteta,Attrition. It's painful or intriguing but doesn't the choice of Arteta as coach, also elicit same emotions? The earlier fans understand these things,the better. The man, Arteta is here to stay, he only recently signed a contract extension because the board is satisfied with his work. Infact an Europa league qualification will more than please the board.
We hail the Gunners.