Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The things I have enjoyed about this season

Amazingly, for the final few day of the Premier League season, there’s literally nothing happening. This is because we’ve already secured a top four place and aren’t, at this moment, cacking ourselves about having to get the right result on the final day of the season.

I’ll go on record and say I’m a fan of this. I mean, beating out Sp*rs while they think it’s 1-1 at Newcastle is hilarious and all, but sometimes it’s nice to do things without so much drama. It’s certainly better for the blood pressure. And the heart. And the bowels. And if you’re missing the hilarity, remember that Tim Sherwood is manager of that lot. That should do it.

So, while I know there have been frustrations this season, I thought I’d put together a list of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this campaign. You know, although the comebacks and overhauling big points gaps were ultimately fun, I don’t think I really liked those seasons very much as a whole. There was just too much wrong overall, but even if things didn’t work out the way we’d have liked this time around, there was a lot more to be encouraged about.

Please note: this list is in random order, mostly because I’m just making it up as I go along.

Being top

It didn’t last as long as necessary, but dammit it was fun being up there while it did. Maybe it made things more frustrating when we slipped away, but I’d take dropping down a few places over making a bollix of your season in September and October and playing a game of impossible catch-up every time. There’s a lot more to learned from leading than just being another also-ran who has no chance of leading. It was a title challenge, that’s an improvement.

You have to enjoy being up there while you’re there, especially when most of the previous years you’ve been playing catch-up and looking enviously at those above.

Aaron Ramsey finding Billy’s Boots

Oof! I’ve always said he was a good player and that at some point it would click for him, but I didn’t expect this kind of a leap forward in his career. Goals, assists, drive, energy – and the rest. There used to be a time people would bemoan his name on the teamsheet, now they cry about his absence. He has also broken the world record for saying ‘ever so well’ the most times over the course of one season.

Jack Wilshere’s goal

The one against Norwich. Yes, we’ve been guilty at times of overplaying it, but man, when it comes off it’s just something else. Plus, it gave us that fantastic ‘Ooooooooh’ moment when the crowd saw just what a goal it was on the replays in the stadium.

The Mertescielny Axis of Awesome

I know I should qualify this by mentioning the heavy defeats away from home, but let’s not ignore the fact that this is probably the best central defensive partnership since Toure and Campbell in the 2003-04 season. I might even suggest it’s better, because that team had the awesomeness going forward to make their lives easier. Much of what was good about us this season was built on the defensive platform they helped create. Which brings me to:

A relatively stable back five

Gotta give some love to Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs and the keeper too. Having a consistent back four for most of the season was really important, and as I’ve written recently, I think Szczesny has been a much underrated success this season. Again, the view of what he’s done has been skewed by the spankings, but when you look at what he has contributed it ought to be recognised. And he’s still just 24.

Arsenal 3-0 Sp*rs

Three games and three wins against a team that spent over £100m in the summer. £100m! And the combined value of all of those players now is three bags of flour, an old raincoat and a handful of magic beans. Glorious. Made even more amusing by the fact they put the janitor in charge. Comedy gold. It’s like having a sitcom that doesn’t get crap after a few series, every year there’s something new, fresh and funny about what they do and how they do it.

Mesut Özil

Despite this pathetic insistence on certain sections of the media that he’s been a waste of money or is ‘nicking a living’, I’ve enjoyed having the German. Not just for what he brings to the team – which should be obvious to anyone – but also what his signing meant. I think we’ve lost sight of the impact it had, and will have in the future. I don’t expect £40m signings to become the norm, but that we did it once means we can do it again, and his presence is a draw for players we might want to bring in.

The cup run

There’s obviously still one game to go, but it’s funny to hear people talk about how Arsenal ‘scraping past Wigan’, and ‘only’ facing Hull in the final would be some kind of shallow victory if we were to achieve it. They ignore the fact we beat Sp*rs, Liverpool and Everton on the way to the final stages of this competition, and as somebody whose very first Arsenal memory is 1979, Brady with his socks down, and all the rest, the cup has a special significance for me.

That little boy

You know, the one inside that Dutch Skunk. Call me a small, petty man if you will. Point to his Premier League medal from last season if you like. All I know is that being sold a pup by Ferguson about his future, then being managed by David Moyes and coached by Phil Neville must have been hellish for him, and I enjoyed that. This section also includes the tears of John Terry and Ashley Cole. Naturally.


What a dude.

I’m sure there are more, but it’s early, and my brain is in need of a caffeine injection. Feel free to share your own best moments in the arses. And in the interests of balance, I suppose I should do a ‘Things I didn’t enjoy’ list at some point, but not this week, and not in the week leading up to the cup final. Something for a slow, summer day I suppose (and isn’t that something to look forward to!).

Back tomorrow with an Arsecast and all that. In the meantime, have a good one.

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