Fulham and Fenerbahce flattened, everything else just flat.
In the end, the hard work paid off. There was a fear, one no one really paid much attention to, but a fear nonetheless, that this year could well be the year our European luck ran out. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed almost certain it would.
Understandable, really. After skidding into fourth place like a puppy on a polished floor in May, we’d all hoped we’d face the two-legged play-off with lots of nice reinforcements with which to force our way into the group stages. Perhaps an Argentine striker; maybe a Uruguayan one. A Spanish midfielder would have been the biggest bonus of all, but I wouldn’t have minded a French one either. Anything breathing and mobile really, at this point.
But, well, no, none of that was to be. Maybe this is the emotional healing period we’re being forced through at present. After two (arguably more) summers of traumatic goodbyes, perhaps they think we couldn’t handle too much happiness quite so soon. Maybe they think it might kill us. You don’t go around serving starving men fry-ups, unless you want them to die. Why would you give an overwhelmed fan a striker? We’d no doubt get far too attached to them, then go a bit weird and stalky. And then die of course.
Anyway, no one’s joined, so that’s a different issue for a different day. Last night’s 2-0 win over Fenerbahce added to the 0-3 win over them last week, making a whopping 5-0 aggregate beating of the team we all wet ourselves over when we were drawn against them earlier this month. Aaron Ramsey, a man rejuvenated, added two to his tally of one last night, rounding off an all in all excellent week for himself. The Rambowagon is now full to the brim. If he’s not careful, it’ll be a Rambocaravan before he knows it and I don’t know anyone who likes caravans.
You can’t not be happy for him, given the way he’s worked since being broken in half three years ago. Even when his performances weren’t up to scratch, he plodded on (in a speedy fashion) and kept working away at his game. It’s paying off now, and I’d imagine even his harshest critics might be warming to him at this point. Also, is it me or has he got taller? Maybe it’s just that the double kink in his tibia and fibula have finally unfurled, who knows.
We played an understandably handbrakey game, which was actually kinda boring in parts, except for those involving some super saves (and a couple of flaps) from Szczesny. But hey, we were pretty much guaranteed Champions League football, why would we do any more? HMMMMM, A COMMON THEME, YOU MIGHT SAY.
Unfortunately we lost Lukas Podolski to a hamtwang and maybe Ramsey to groin troubles and Wilshere to a broken body, and then Fenerbahce got slung out this morning anyway, so we could have avoided getting anyone injured at all. We all know it would have been a different story had we lost, of course.
The performance against Fulham was also great, with us playing some of the beautiful stuff we only really saw against West Ham at home last season. So free-flowing, so pretty, so fast. Look at all that raw product out there. Imagine adding some fancy garnishing? Just gotta put it in the Wenger oven and bam, tasty stuff for all the family. I barely looked at the other results at the weekend, because when we’ve won, it simply doesn’t matter.
So now we look to Sunday and oh go-ho-ho-ho-hod it’s Spuuuuuurrrrrs.
It seems unfair to suggest we might not win, given how much I’m in love with our over-stretched, overworked squad right now, but we really might not. I mean, we might, but we might not. Don’t you think that’s how all match previews should go? We also could draw too. Bale probably won’t play, except knowing our luck he will, and his twin, right-footed brother Bareth will materialise out of nothing and play also, making it a tricky one all round.
It’s fun to imagine we might make a few additions between now and then, but let’s be real that ain’t gonna happen. As annoying as the INCESSANT faceaching is, they’ve been proved right when nothing materialised before the Asia tour, after the Asia tour, before the Emirates Cup, after the Emirates Cup, before Villa, after Villa, before Fulham and now after Fulham. And this time, there’s not even a cheeky little Mikel Arteta waiting in the wings! There’s a mythical move for Casillas (oh my god I would DIE) but he’s more Madrid than Adams was Arsenal. There’s Cabaye and his back to front head. Sorry love, but if Arsenal are enough to rejig your priorities in such a frankly rude manner, what’ll you do when someone richer than us comes along? Do please keep pissing Pards off though won’t you, there’s a good boy. People seem to have forgotten about Suarez… perhaps he is dead. Oh, there’s also di Maria and Benzema, neither of which one can imagine happening in a million years.
People keep saying to me that I’ve gone all negative, but I haven’t really. I just see no other way around it. It makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, but I do know that as it stands the team we have will do their absolute best and that everything shall be well, until mid-November when the seams start to come undone once again. Arsene, I think you’re magical, we know this. Seventeen years on the trot in Europe, by the way – congratulations and thank you. You can work wonders with most things in the world, but we’ve basically been here before. I’m over being one of the teams everyone laughs at and would really quite like to be hated again. We don’t need a hungry racist to be hated, we could just try being good. We’re good as we are. Let’s bring in more good stuff, and learn to bask in all the hatred again. Please?
Finally, I firmly believe we’re going to win the Champions League this season.