“Spring is the time of plans and projects,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in his novel Anna Karenina.
Do you, dear Arsenal fan, detect a different fragrance on the wind? Do you observe the nascent twitching of nature’s great season of renewal? Buds on the trees, grass leaping from the earth once more? Do you feel a breath of warmth on your skin? Do you feel the golden rays of spring taking over from the weak winter light? Do you look upon our victory o’er Bournemouth and see the start of a late season renaissance? Do you see our resident hibernating Groundhog, let us call him Mesutxstawney Ozil, emerge from his hibernation, fail to see his shadow therefore predicting an early Gooner spring, denoting a charge for fourth, or even third place? We shall see.
Such a tantalising prospect, the return to Big Boys’ Cup. And to a certain extent our fate is in our hands. Yet it is also in the fate of others. Thirteen points separates FC Chelsea 2003 in sixth and Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh, so it seems clear that barring another spectacular Hashtag Sarri Out sequence of events our nearest competitors are Chelsea and Manchester United, and if your surname is Mangan, then we also have Spurs in our sights. I commend the latest Arsecast in this regard; Let it be recorded in written for that we are to finish above Tottenham Hotspur. This prediction may have to be revised after the match tomorrow, but it was nice while it lasted, as they say.
A word on the demolition of Bournemouth. A most enjoyable bullying of our south coast flat track chums orchestrated by Melvin Orwell, unleashed from the shackles of a final third press, and able to marionette attacks almost at will, and the surprisingly short Mr. MacMillan, fresh from a six week spell in the sanatorium. Always most pleasing to see Mr. Costerley on the scoresheet, and Mr. Lakeshead with what I believe is his first goal from a free kick. We could certainly do with a Mortar Specialist*.
For me, the most succulent moment of the match was Mr. Orwell’s opening goal, erroneously described as “a chip” by the commentary team. It was nothing of the sort. What we witnessed for the goal – the 50th time he has been involved in a goal in 85 appearances at home – was a rare Ploughman’s Foot, whereby the ball is somehow struck with force into the earth and over the Glove Butler. The margin of error on this approach is extremely small, yet it is testament to Mr. Orwell’s mercurial genius that it is not the first time we have seen it.
Mr. MacMillan, who arrived in return for Alexander Saunders, has rarely impressed so much as he did here. There cannot be a Manchester United supporter in all of Guildford who did not see this performance and accept that Arsenal Football Club got the better of this deal. The chap looked as sharp as a barber’s razor, and became the first Woolwich player to both score and provide a Gentleman’s Favour in consecutive top-level appearances since St. John Cousins in February 2015. Surely he must start against football’s eternal clown car, Tottenham Hotspur, tomorrow lunchtime.
I do hope that alongside either Lakeshead or O’Bannon (who scored his 26th goal for us in midweek) we start Kieran Trippier, whose ice-cold finishing will be most welcome. I laughed heartily at his goal against Chelsea, leaping from my bath-chair to exclaim “TE FUTUTO, GAUDEO! CAPUT CAPITIS!”
My school masters told me that Latin would come in useful one day, and I have only had to wait 70 years for that to be proven true.
*A free-kick taker.