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A N D (Arsenal Not-playing Disorder) - LIam e mail

I am not obsessed with Arsenal and football but whenever the season ends I get mildly depressed and find myself at somewhat of a loss.

After such a marvellous season that sadness is exacerbated. Cricket, tennis and even Euro 2004 just will not lift my summer torpor. I love football but although I want England to do well and will be in the pub, or even in Portugal cheering along, I will be as happy if Thierry has a great tournament as if Owen rediscovers his form. I remember celebrating as loudly as the French boys, in a casino in Reno, when Vieira and Petit scored the third against Brazil - they were Arsenal, my team.

With 75 days until the next meaningful match I know I will anxiously await news of tickets for the Ajax tournament and friendlies against Barnet and Wycombe to fulfil my need for Gunners games. Even now the thought of beating United in the Community Shield warms my blood.

This has been a rollercoaster of a season, history made by an outstanding team. Arsenal have achieved what many thought impossible in the modern game but they have not succeeded on all fronts, as we had dared to hope, and I have loved every single minute of it. I miss the constant rigour and rhythm of pre-match build up and post match analysis. I miss the baiting of friends, family and workmates. This season has had many highs and deepest lows but for me, as I'm sure for any true fan, it just got under my skin unlike any other.

Losing out to United in spring was almost too difficult to bear. I needed a new season to get my fix and my revenge. The fixture list is a pulse in my life - planning for away matches whether in attendance or watching a Euro broadcast in some dodgy north London pub. Going to Highbury has rituals and is always a rush. I await the summer publication of the fixture list to plan holidays and weekends. The lottery of the Champion's League draw determines my European travel plans. I am not obsessed, really, but it adds a different and complicated dimension to organising my life.

I think the fantastic nature of this past season has made it more compelling than ever and makes its inevitable demise that much sadder. All the talk at the beginning of the season was about transfers, not ours, but the big name signings at Chelsea, bought with dubious Roubles, and the activities at United where a team icon and football shirt brand was sold to Spain and the wrong Ronaldo was acquired. After our sudden loss of form and nerve at the end of last season, to hand our greatest rivals the Championship, passionate Gooners and the tabloid press demanded transfer action. In particularly we needed to shore up a defence where the mighty Keown was fading and Seaman was moving on from Manchester City and eventually to Dixons. The acquisition of a little known German goalkeeper did little to convince the diehards that Arsenal could bounce back and reclaim their trophy. The lack of a new big name centre back, particularly following the loss of Upson, was viewed as conclusive proof that Arsenal would not revive their Championship winning ways. The more extreme fans were questioning the club's sanity and financial commitment to success --the fan sites were a manic depressives convention. However, I had faith, Arsene knows, he believed in stability and not trying to buy the title. He knew things about his players that we just hadn't seen but we saw and understood later.

Arsene Wenger is now Arsenal's most successful manager and we simply did not fully recognise that his drive and willpower, tactical nous and ability to transfer players to new positions in his system would prevail so spectacularly. He has been doing this for seven years at Highbury and developed this approach at Monaco where he often moved players from defence to midfield and vice versa. With a much smaller budget than the global PLC brand of United and the instantly inflated Stamford Bridge coffers, Wenger has been forced to invest and nurture wisely. His signings of the highly promising Senderos and Cesc in last year's pre-season are patient investments in his long-term plan. In fact David Dein, who we must truly thank for acquiring   this footballing genius, believes that what Arsene has achieved behind the scenes is even more remarkable. He has developed world class training facilities and leading edge coaching routines. He has used his sophisticated and experienced network to develop and recruit young stars and to build a long term youth policy which will herald even greater success in the future. The board's belief in Wenger has hastened the construction of a new state of the art stadium to satisfy over 25,000 people on the season ticket waiting list. Dein believes that up to now we have been punching, albeit very successfully, above our weight.

Success on the field and sound financial planning behind the scenes are the foundations that will take this team, and club, up to the next level.

My abiding memories of the season have some key highlights and some low periods. After four wins and a draw the first pivotal episode was Ruud the Horse® missing the penalty at Old Trafford, after having blatantly cheated to con the referee and get Paddy sent off. The teams mass delight at his miss and hounding of him raised the passions and raised the stakes in terms of team rivalry. The best 0 - 0 draw for many a year. We had had both got, and made, a point at Old Trafford. The subsequent fines and suspensions could have caused more problems but somehow it seemed to galvanise the squad.

The supposed continuing poor discipline under Wenger, and in particular this incident, was used by the media to berate Arsenal and to talk up Chelsea and United supposed strengths. However, the following month the determination signals were even stronger, willpower not indiscipline drove this team. We were outplayed at Anfield but defensive stability and counter attack at its very finest, topped off by a Pires special, delivered a sweet victory.

On the downside our dismal start in Europe, a stunning victory by Inter at Highbury and poor performances in Eastern Europe, led everyone to believe we could not even break out of the group phase.

However, on a passionate bonfire night at Highbury, Cole scored a last gasp winner to send the crowd ecstatic - fireworks indeed. Then the unbelievable happened, we went to San Siro needing to win, and boy how we won - a 5-1 victory that really convinced me that, at last, we had shaken off our European hoodoo, we would stay the course.

Henry was simply brilliant, of course, but the team showed such an immense will to win after earlier setbacks .

I somehow contrived to be in Italy when we played in Russia and in Moscow when we dominated Milan. Missing that latter victory, in person, I still deeply regret. Persuading Russian businessmen that they really must watch European football in a BA lounge was scant reward. In my "exuberant" celebration I am really surprised I was allowed onto the flight. Subsequent victory over Lokomotiv secured our passage to the knock out phase as group leaders - some fight-back Arsenal.

As the season continued I feared we were drawing too many games in the Premiership and that would be our eventual downfall. But, with hindsight, we simply weren't losing games where we had stumbled before. So as had been expected the pack of three broke away from the rest and the fixture list became even more compelling

I first truly convinced myself that we were going to win the Premiership when we beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge six days after Reyes had announced his arrival so spectacularly in beating them at home in the cup. The team spirit was immense and Vieira was inspirational and a driven man after his early error. The team's reaction at the full time whistle really showed me that they believed they could do it.

In the two domestic cups we were progressing well, with the first team dominating the FA Cup and the youngsters going through the Worthington rounds before stumbling at Boro in the semis. As an aside the Worthington rounds provided an opportunity for travelling bloggers to meet which added an interesting social aspect to events.

However, I truly believe, this success on all fronts was to sow the seeds of our failure to finally win through in Europe.

The signing of Reyes and his winning performance against Chelsea in the cup was another highlight at this point, a signs of greater things to come you'll see.

We progressed on in Europe and disposed of Celta Vigo with room to spare, Edu being the man of the hour. The trip to Spain was a personal highlight, the perfect example of the draw taking me to a pleasant Spanish west coast fishing town that I would otherwise never visit. Great support, great atmosphere, great game - that is why we go on a European tour.

The rollercoaster kicked in by April. We hit really bad luck in the cup draws. The fixture congestion and the hated opposition meant we faced a daunting run of games in a short period. The semi-final at Villa Park showed an unsure team formation, in a really lacklustre effort, in front of strangely muted Gooner crowd. United and their fans treated it as their cup final and it showed. Media and opposition supporters gloating as the treble dream, that they had imposed on us, was dismantled was a real low point. Worse was to come after Chelsea's outstanding second half performance at Highbury. A step too far for a clearly tired Arsenal. We had stumbled in Europe yet again. I really thought we were going to make the semis and the other results from the quarter-finals meant that the competition was at its most open for years Truly a missed opportunity and a huge disappointment.

The following match at Highbury was critical and I was a bag of nerves for days beforehand. Being 2 - 1 down at half time didn't help my frayed emotions. The second half was Arsenal's best performance of the season, at half time Wenger conjured the response required. Henry, the master craftsmen, with my goal of the season, dismantled a determined Liverpool defence.

So a week of sustained depression, where I must have been very poor company, was suddenly all sweetness and light again. I now knew we were going to win the league. I just didn't know it was going to be so easy.

Then a new twist kicked in. It dawned on everyone that we were seven games away from going the season unbeaten, this became my guiding light and an all consuming passion. If we could really do this in the face of all round scepticism and after the taunting of a misquoted Wenger the previous year, failure in Europe could be forgiven. Perhaps not so Comical Wenger?

All eyes turned to the fixture list again, where could we win the League? Surely not at White Hart Lane, again? Well results conspired in our favour and despite struggling through the sheer animosity of attending the worst ground in London, and following Chelsea's earlier loss at Newcastle, the scene was set. This was the perfect canvas. Arsenal were quick out of the traps and counter attacked to full effect. Half time 2 - 0, we were having a laugh! Despite their comeback, and Mad Jen's final folly, we did it. Locked in and singing for an hour while Ashley put an inflatable trophy on the centre spot.

So there were four games to immortality as the finest unbeaten team in English football history. We stumbled but we didn't fall. A dull Birmingham game, a rainy night in Portsmouth, and a gift of a goal in Fulham.

Then the final game against a relegated Leicester. Nerves jangling as again we are losing at half time but Dennis contrived to create for Patrick to deliver a captain's finishing touch every bit as sweet as Tony's six years before.

How did we do it? Wenger knows. He had seen something special and believed in Kolo Toure who became a rock at the back and was our young player of the year. Lehmann, though much maligned, was the keeper we probably needed the year before. Henry was immense, Vieira inspirational, Pires magnificent, Dennis Bergkamp and the Brazilians brilliant. I miss them all.

So, as you can clearly see, I am not obsessed but after a season like that could you blame me if I were?

I now have a busy summer of work, social events, garden centres, DIY, holidays and family visits.

When is that Barnet game?