Wednesday, June 19, 2024

You never know!

So this is it.

37 games. 27 wins. 89 goals. 86 points. And it all comes down to the final day. It’s all fairly simple: we need to beat Everton, and we need West Ham to draw with, or beat, Man City at the Etihad.

Simple. And yet. Neither thing is quite that. It’s taken for granted that today hinges only on what happens in Manchester, but we have to show the same level of performance and professionalism that we have all season to take all three points. Then, realistically speaking, we need something extraordinary to happen in the other game.

One minute my outlook is that it’s completely unlikely, the next that you just never know what can happen in a game of football. That stat about how the team leading on the final day has always gone on to win the title doesn’t augur well, but then part of me thinks it has to happen at some point. Why not today? Will the greatest law of them all – the law of averages – be on our side?

Probably not. But maybe!

‘Be realistic, Andrew’, my brain says.

‘I know,’ I reply, ‘but also shut up brain’.

Because for all of that, if you can’t go into the final day of the season when you have a chance to win the league and not let yourself dream a bit, what’s the point? Perhaps it won’t be a dream that lasts too long, City’s relentless winning machine will just go and do what it needs to, but you never know.

So many people asked me after the live event what would happen today, and I had to disappoint all of them by revealing the stark truth that I cannot tell the future. I think my general answer was ‘You never know!’. There’s the blog title today.

I don’t know what else there is to say about this one. We could talk about the team selection today but I think we could all pretty much pick the starting line-up. I don’t even think it’s especially relevant to the discussion. This team, or slight variations of it, have won 15 of their last 17 games (46 points from 51 in 2024) to get us to this point. Do we need to talk about whether or not they have the chops to get a result today? Not really. Which isn’t to take anything for granted, but simply a reflection of their quality and consistency.

Despite that incredible run, our hopes lie in the hands (and feet) of others. There are various scenarios where West Ham could do it, but all of them are overshadowed by the evil Mount Probability which looms over today and will likely decide the outcome. But you never know!

I don’t really even want to dwell on that. The most important thing about today for me is that Arsenal have a chance, however slight, and that’s it. The work the team and the manager and everyone behind the scenes has done to get here has been so impressive, and whatever happens they deserve so much credit. It’s really not that long ago that the idea that this football club would be involved in a title race that goes to the death was just so fanciful.

We have come a long in a fairly short period of time. I don’t know if today is the day we get it over the line, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident about our ability to compete. In any other league, we’d have been champions a couple of weeks ago (at least), but the team we have to beat to win it in the Premier League isn’t normal (for all kinds of reasons we don’t need to go into).

I feel lucky that I can be there today, and if we win it … oooof, you can all imagine. If we don’t, they’ll get plenty of well deserved love and praise from the fans, grateful for what has been an incredible season by any standards. I hope to see some of you around, I hope for all of us that a little miracle happens in Manchester (but for West Ham obviously), and that we do what need to do in our game.

I need some coffee. I need a bit of a walk. I need Arsenal to win the Premier League. But I can only control two of those. I now hand myself over to the players in both the games, to the fates themselves, and let’s see where it goes.

Come on you reds!

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