Arsenal Legends Depart on St Totteringham’s Day
You can not make this stuff up!
It is days like this that are the very reason that so many people around the world put football and sport in general, first in their lives. A team of Hollywood writers, or British soap opera makers, could not create the drama of the final day of the Premier League and have anyone believe it.
Arsenal, their manager and many of the players, written off by the pundits and even a large section of their fans, showed, once again, that form is temporary and class is permanent.
The media, Tottenham and some Arsenal supporters were convinced that a change had come. Former Spurs man Jermain Jenas even wrote a much publicised article, entitled ‘Tottenham are no longer living in Arsenal’s shadow‘. This kind of black and white, all or nothing, thinking of these people is both a symptom and contributory factor of several mental disorders. This could explain the glass half empty mind set of many Arsenal supporters this season.
Spurs were in the box seat to take the Premier League title only a few short weeks ago and finish above Arsenal, for the first time since 1995. But as the wheels came loose and eventually fell off of the Spurs wagon, Arsenal went on a run of 10 undefeated Premier League matches, scoring 21 goals in the process. The show is never over until the fat lady sings.
Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0
Villa had already been confirmed as the bottom side in the Premier League and could do nothing to avoid relegation, long before they arrived at Arsenal. But, surprisingly, they went with the defensive tactic that most lower table sides opt for at Arsenal, lining up with five men at the back.
The numbers, however, did not compensate for the lack of commitment, or stoicism, of the Villa defenders. Arsenal ran them ragged for the first 15 minutes, Giroud scoring with a header, when he was practically unmarked, in the 5th minute.
When a cricket score looked to be on the cards, Arsenal seemed to take their foot off of the pedal. Villa made some intrusions of their own, with Jordan Ayew and Scott Sinclair both denied opportunities to put the Birmingham side on the score sheet.
As the match wore on, news of Newcastle‘s goals against Spurs filtered through and the crowd let the Arsenal players know, in no uncertain terms, that second place was theirs for the taking and take it they did. Giroud added a second in the 78th minute, assisted, of course, by Mesut Ozil.
Giroud topped off his second hat trick of the season two minutes later with a very similar finish.
To round off the fairy tale, club captain, Mikel Arteta, took to the field for the final time in the 88th minute and scored in injury time. Alexis Sanchez deliberately picked him out of a box crowded with Villa defenders and Arsenal attackers. Arteta‘s shot hit the cross bar, then ricocheted off the back of Bunn, the Villa keeper, into the net. Now, records show this as an own goal, but when a goalkeeper trying to make a save is deemed to have scored an own goal, you really have to question the mindset of the people who make this decision.
Don’t worry Mikel, everyone at Arsenal will remember that you scored in your final game for the Gunners.
Legends Say Farewell on St Totteringham’s Day
As any Arsenal, or Tottenham, supporter knows, St Totteringham’s Day is the day in each season when Spurs can no longer catch Arsenal in the league. The fact that it fell on the final day of the season this year was very frustrating for a long time, but ended up making it all the sweeter and left people like Jermaine Jenas and many others eating their words.
It was also a big day at the Emirates for the fact that some legends of the club were departing.
Mikel Arteta has been vastly underrated by many, especially sections of Arsenal supporters in recent seasons.
Mikel arrived after the leaving of Cesc Fabregas and proved to be more reliable than the departing former captain. There is a vast gap between Fabregas‘s best and worst games, this was far less the case with Señor Arteta.
Mikel took on the defensive midfield role and captain’s armband, when seemingly no one else was available to do it. It is not the role that he came to Arsenal to fulfil, nor, I suspect, the one that he wanted. But in a club flooded with creative midfielders he took it on admirably.
Mikel Arteta has been a great servant to the Arsenal football club and hopefully will now get the recognition that he deserves. I hope that he can stay on as a coach, no doubt he has been a great assistance to Wenger with the arrival of so many Spanish speaking players who followed him. But it seems Manchester City are no longer satisfied with ripping off Arsenal‘s talented players, they now want their potential back room boys too.
The Little Mozart and Sick Note are a couple of the nicknames that the Czech international picked up at Arsenal. He could orchestrate the midfield, score spectacular goals and I always felt that the whole team sped up when he was on the field.
But sadly Rosický spent too little time on the field and too much time on the treatment table. He did enough to be an Arsenal great, but I believe that he would have been an all time legend, had he had better luck with injuries.
If you want to bring a smile to your lips, do yourself a favour and watch this montage of Tomáš Rosický‘s Arsenal goals.
I believe that Tomáš wants to represent the Czech Republic in this year’s European Championships. I sincerely hope that he can do so and go out on the high note that he deserves.
Mathieu Flamini did not get a send off on the final day of the season, but I am almost certain that he is leaving.
Like Mikel Arteta, Flamini’s contribution has been vastly underestimated by many Arsenal fans. Also like Arteta, I feel that he often played where the coach needed him, rather than where he wanted to.
Mathieu Flamini had two spells at Arsenal. Proving an absolute bargain, when he was picked up on a free transfer, second time around. He scored some spectacular and important goals and was never afraid to put his foot where it needed to be, even if that meant picking up a card.
Rumour has it that Flamini‘s Biochemical Company could make him a billionaire, so he has no financial incentive to continue playing football. But, if he wants to, there is also a strong rumour that newly promoted Middlesbrough are keen to pick him up.
I have never been one to believe transfer rumours, until the player is wearing the new team’s shirt, at the new team’s ground. But this one is persistent and from numerous sources. When I checked Wikipedia, it already listed Granit Xhaka as an Arsenal player, before the transfer window had even opened. We all know how reliable Wikipedia can be.
With three retirements, there is certainly room for Xhaka in Arsenal‘s squad and this would be a big signing, ₤30 million is being bandied around. This is no stop gap to give Coquelin time to recover, like Elneny was.
Elsewhere on the Final Day
Leicester City‘s final day was somewhat of a damp squib, having confirmed their title status two weeks ago, on a night when they were not playing. They closed their campaign with a 1-1 draw at Chelsea, meaning that they were only beaten in three games all season (two of them to Arsenal).
Congratulations are undoubtedly due to the little club from the Midlands, who managed what no one else could, with a cut price squad. No one would begrudge them their title, if their own cub could not win it and Claudio Rainieri seems like a very nice man, who has journeyed through numerous clubs without anything like this kind of reward. Maybe it is fitting that his season should end at Chelsea, who had previously dismissed him.
Leicester fielded fewer players than any other Premier League side this season and had remarkably few injuries. There is no doubt that there will be big bids for some of their star players in the close season, so any chance of them replicating this achievement is even more remote than winning this one was before. But anything can happen in football, which is why we watch it.
Manchester United Bomb Scare.
Manchester United‘s final fixture, against Bournemouth at home, was abandoned, due to a bomb scare at Old Trafford. The news today was that it was a replica device left behind by a security firm, in an exercise. The whole thing is being labelled a fiasco, but my suspicions are alerted. We’ve all seen episodes of Spooks where terror threats are written off as gas explosions. I don’t want to cause undue alarm, but my spidey sense is tingling on this one.
The one thing for sure is that it gives United a narrow gap between their final Premier League game which has been rescheduled for Tuesday night and their FA Cup final on Saturday.
So, apart from that match, the Premier League is all over for another season. We’ve got the FA Cup to come, the Champions League Final, the UEFA Cup final featuring Liverpool, then the European Championship, before it starts all over again.
For those Arsenal fans who believe that it is time for a change, I remind them that in the last three seasons Arsenal have finished, fourth, third and now second. It’s been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come.
By Max Power