As expected Man City beat Brentford last night and the top of the Premier League now looks like this:
City’s game in hand gives them an advantage, I guess, but Arsenal are in a healthy position, and one which perhaps people hadn’t expected us to be in after that blip in form over the Christmas period. The margin for error in this era is ridiculously small as it is, but if there is a good time to have a wobble it’s when you still have a chance to make up for it.
I did wonder on yesterday’s Arsecast Extra if part of the development of this Arsenal team is that we’re set-up to be more of a second half of the season side. It’s perhaps a little simplistic, but however you want to frame it, it is the business end of the campaign and last season it was – for various reasons – what cost us the title. That, and Man City’s relentlessness, of course. They have it down to a fine art, rampaging from January to May at 115 miles per hour, with their special vegetable diet, season after season.
We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out, but if the football we play this season doesn’t quite match the excitement levels of last year, it’s a deliberate development in pursuit of success. 2022-23 was a kind of lightning in a bottle season, and you can’t recapture that. You have to be better, and to do that you have to be different. Let’s see where it takes us.
Meanwhile, Martin Odegaard has hit back at the most tedious people in football: the celebration police (no capitals, they don’t deserve them). They were out in force after our win over Liverpool on Sunday, and the Arsenal captain was having none of it, rightly so. He said:
I think everyone who loves football, who understands football, they know how much it means to win this game. It was a massive game. It could have been eight points, and it would look a lot more difficult then, but we showed up, the fans were unbelievable.
If you’re not allowed to celebrate when you win a game, when are you allowed to celebrate? We’re happy with the win and we’ll stay humble.
It’s just such nonsense, especially from people who have played the game and understand what a win of this significance means. As we’ve said before, the world is a difficult place at the best of times, and this constant need to knock people down or berate them for being happy is the epitome of miserable.
There are some who will say, ‘It wasn’t like this back in my day’, and that may well be true. But here’s the thing: this is how it is now. The world has changed, the football media landscape has changed, technology has changed, and the players are young men who exist in this era – not the one you came up in. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean enjoyment should be restricted to them, but they are the drivers of the game now. Fun is for everyone, if you’re willing to embrace it.
Not to mention the fact that these miserable, crotchety old misanthropes are earning a substantial living as part of the modern football media, and they should either get with the times, or feck off down to their local and sit at the bar to spout their nonsense to a much smaller audience. And wonder why the stools either side of them are free at all times.
They are the punditry equivalent Grampa Simpson, yelling at clouds. Unfortunately, they’re given a microphone and a platform which makes it difficult to avoid their antediluvian, moth-eaten bleating. Whether Arsenal go on to win the title this season remains to be seen, but that won’t diminish how people felt in the moment when we beat Liverpool. Or when you score a goal in a game. Or when an opposition player gets sent off. These fleeting moments are there to be enjoyed, to be shared, and then football being football it will kick you in the nuts and nobody ever tells you should just ignore that pain because it’s not like being tortured to death.
Anyway, I will leave the final word on this today to my esteemed podcast colleague James who did it brilliantly yesterday – and it comes to you in animated format thanks to our pal Poorly Drawn Arsenal (subscribe to his newsletter!). Till tomorrow.